Blackout NYC 1977

The 25-hour blackout of 1977 on July 13-4 saw riots and looting that was unprecedented in New York City. Con Ed’s New York City grid went fully dark due to a lightening strike that hit the Buchanan Station transformer, only few places retained power due to historic private generators or being on Long Island Lighting Company’s grid like a small section of Southern Queens., including the Rockaways.

At 8:37pm lightning stuck the Buchanan South substation located on the Hudson River near Indian Point, two circuit breakers tripped resulting in a powerless Manhattan. The Buchanan South substation converted the 345,000 electric volts from nuclear plant to a lower voltage for commercial use. A loose locking nut and slowed uptake of the power cycle which prevented the circuit breaker’s ability to fully re-close and transport power to the NYC power grid.

A second power strike complicated the ability to rapidly repair the power grid.

The blackout happened at a time when NYC was faced with financial crisis for many lower income residents. The City was also gripped in fear due to the “Summer of Sam” murders as they continued at a rapid pace through out the summer.  The entire Country was ailing from a long-term economic downturn. The financial crisis combined with a grueling heat wave produced a free-for-all of chaos and disorder even in the daylight hours throughout the City.

The looters of 1977 continued their action into the daylight hours even with police on high alert.

NYC Mayor Abe Beame addressee the City during the blackout:

We’ve seen our citizens subjected to violence, vandalism, theft, and discomfort. The Blackout has threatened our safety and has seriously impacted our economy. We’ve been needlessly subjected to a night of terror in many communities that have been wantonly looted and burned. The costs when finally tallied will be enormous.

According to wikipedia,

“In all, 1,616 stores were damaged in looting and rioting. A total of 1,037 fires were responded to, including 14 multiple-alarm fires. In the largest mass arrestin city history, 3,776 people were arrested. Many had to be stuffed into overcrowded cells, precinct basements and other makeshift holding pens. A congressional study estimated that the cost of damages amounted to a little over $300 million (equivalent to $1.2 billion in 2017).”

The Rocklandpost would like to thank Con Ed for their tireless and precise work throughout the modern era of New York.

Who do you think is keeping the lights on right now?