7/13/1977 - The 1977 Blackout

A series of ill-fated lightning bolts tripped the circuit breakers in a Hudson River substation on July 13, 1977, shutting down Con Ed and resulting in two days of turmoil for Gotham—1,616 stores were looted, there was rioting in over 30 neighborhoods, 1,037 fires were set, and the largest mass arrest in city history took place: 3,776 people. Damages amounted to over $300 million, and the only neighborhoods unaffected were those in southern Queens and the Rockaways which used the Long Island Lighting Company system. The much-documented event was a blow for New York economically and emotionally, and resulted in sweeping change to the operating entities of urban electricity to safeguard against future power failures. In addition, many back-up generators were added to systems, and many hospitals updated their emergency room back-up systems and maintenance schedules. The looting, while damaging many small businesses beyond repair, also brought hip hop outside the Bronx, as a number of hopeful DJs were able to steal much desired electronic equipment during the looting.


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