--> Gill Blog: New York City blackout of 1977

Gill Blog

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

New York City blackout of 1977

Have you noticed how often you are reminded that we are living in a new normal? As a result, we must adjust our lifestyles to events such as terrorism, natural calamities and disease. Quick check -- this stuff has actually been going on for a long time, and we use this day in particular as a reminder because today marks the 28th anniversary of the New York City blackout of 1977. It really couldn't have happened at a worse time, because morale in the city was very low:
The blackout came at a low point in the city's history, with New York facing a severe financial crisis, and commentators contrasted the event with the good-natured Where were you when the lights went out? atmosphere of 1965. Some pointed to the financial crisis as a root cause of the disorder, others noted the hot July weather. To add to the gloomy mood, the summer of 1977 was also the time of the Son of Sam serial killings.

Interestingly, there are probably a number of 27 year-old emergency and risk professionals from New York who were conceived in the midst of the chaos:
The blackout also proved to create a small baby boom; there was a huge increase in New York's birthrate nine months after the blackout.

On August 14, 2003, New York City and most of the northeast North American continent experienced the largest "blackout" in history, which left us blogging in the darkness, and prompted this historical observation in the international press:
Blackouts have a particular place in the history of New York City. They are seen as defining moments, and for those old enough to remember, Thursday's power cut will bring back memories of the "good blackout" of 1965 which became an emblem of the civic responsibility and resilience.

Twelve years later, in 1977, there was what the New York Times also describes as the "bad blackout", which, until 11 September, was literally and metaphorically, one of the city's darkest hours.