Looking back at the Great NYC Blackout of 1977

The blackout's 40th anniversary is July 13. Take a look back with these vintage photos and videos.

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the great New York City blackout of 1977. On July 13 at approximately 9:30 p.m., the city fell into complete darkness. Lightning strikes to power lines and Con Edison infrastructure caused a series of overloads, which led to the city losing power.

 

For a 25-hour period, New York City residents went without water or electricity.

 

The New York Mets were playing the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium at the time of the blackout. The game was in the sixth inning. 

 

1977 NYC blackout at Shea Stadium

The New York City blackout couldn't have come a worse time for New Yorkers. That summer, police were searching for the serial killer “Son of Sam.” The city was in the midst of a financial crisis. Crime was high. And to top it all off, the city was in the midst of a stifling summer heat wave.

 

According to the New York Times, 1,000 fires were reported, 1,600 stores were damaged from looting, and 3,700 arrests were made during the span of the blackout. Fires set by looters spread across the Bronx and Brooklyn. Firefighters battled arson throughout the city, including a massive fire in the Bronx at 183 Street and Morris Avenue. The total cost of the New York City blackout was more than $300 million, the Times reports. 

Mayor Abe Beame blamed Con Edison for the power failure and accused the energy company of “gross negligence.”

 

1977 NYC blackout arson fire in the Bronx

As power was restored to parts of the city, local news stations aired specials about the blackout's aftermath oand how the city was recovering from the 25-hour chaos. During a special 45-minute edition of WABC Eyewitness News, Con Edison gave an update on their progress.

WABC Eyewitness News coverage of NYC blackout of 1977

News stations continued to cover the blackout by airing statements from Mayor Beame and Con Edison and interviews with store owners who suffered damage to their establishments as a result of the arson and looting. New Yorkers talked about where they were during the blackout and how they were dealing with the city’s slow recovery.

Compilation of news coverage from NYC blackout of 1977

Click through the photos and take a look back at one of the worst blackouts in New York City history.

 
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