Segments in this Video

Day of the New York City Blackout (05:25)


A heat wave was hitting New York City and temperatures hit 100 degrees. A severe thunderstorm hit and a power line in West Chester County was struck by lightning. It created a domino effect of overloaded power lines that lead to the power going out.

Start of New York Blackout (06:06)

At first, nobody knew the reason for the blackout, but everyone was in good spirits. Seven million people were without power and Con Ed established a plan of action. All off-duty police officers were ordered to the nearest precinct.

Culture of New York (07:16)

There was a blackout in New York in 1965, but there were few problems and it was treated with a sense of fun. By the 1970s, the economic conditions of New York had changed. There was higher crime and unemployment.

The Fire Years in New York (02:59)

In the 1970s, the New York Fire Department was doing double the average amount of runs than other departments. Fires and arson was incredibly common in the Bronx. Serial killer Son of Sam was terrorizing the city.

First Night of the Blackout (03:50)

Looting began as the sun went down during the 1977 blackout in all five boroughs. Hundreds of people were outside, and hospitals were getting overrun with injured patients.

Looting Sprees During Blackout (04:35)

Store owners stayed in their stores all night to fend off looters. Police reported to precincts nearest to their homes, which left poorer neighborhoods with few officers. Once they got to neighborhoods in need, fights broke out with looters.

Isolation From Blackout Looting (02:32)

In more affluent areas nobody knew about the looting. Many people partied or stayed in the bars and restaurants, drinking by candlelight.

Continued Blackout Looting (04:51)

Employees at Con Ed were working quickly to restore the power. They knew getting the lights back on would help the police gain control of the city. After the first wave of looters, people without criminal backgrounds started taking items from already looted stores and were arrested.

Fires During the Blackout (01:44)

Fires started to breakout as looting and rioting continued. The fire department struggled to keep up with the fires.

Morning After of the Blackout (04:52)

New Yorkers questioned what had happened to the city and why there was so much crime during the blackout. Many store owners lost everything and never reopened.

Aftermath of the Blackout (04:02)

Many New Yorkers thought the neighborhoods would never recover from the blackout. It was the largest mass arrest in the city's history. For many, it showed the fragility of urban life.

Credits: Blackout (01:18)

Credits: Blackout

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A look at what happened in New York City the night the lights went out in July of 1977, plunging 7 million city residents into darkness. By the time power was restored, stores and businesses had been looted and burned and thousands had been arrested.

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL151138

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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