The 13th of July 1977 started out as a beautiful summer’s day in New York City but later on that evening many New Yorkers experienced their city of lights go dark leaving them without any electricity for more than 12 hours.
Blackout by American Experience examines the stories of those who experienced this extremely rare occurrence and gives a detailed account of what exactly happened to people when they were enveloped in total darkness that night.
The blackout came about when three fatal lightning strikes caused the power systems to fail completely. Even though the power companies did their best to redirect electricity from other substations, it was out of their hands.
By 9:36 PM that evening, almost an hour since the first lightning bolt struck down to the stations, the whole power system eventually failed, not being able to produce enough electricity for the city and it’s distinct areas.
During the blackout chaos erupted in the beloved city of New York. Everything from petty crimes to violence occurred and it would seem like no one was safe in their homes. It is explained that during 1977 the country had just undergone an economic downturn and people were literally cashing in on the opportunity to make a quick buck or two.
The crime wave hit over 30 neighbourhoods, with 1 037 fires that had to be responded to in the hours of the next morning. Most businesses had already been closed but this didn’t stop looters testing the length of their fingers.
The film aims to explain how these people experienced the events and gives insight into how the business owners of the 1 616 looted shops repaired the damage, and how residents of the neighbourhoods responded to their damaged areas. It also attempts to give some insight as to what the police had to deal with after arresting over 3 700 people.
We get a great sense of how the blackout of 1977 in New York amounted into over $300 million worth of damage, and how the victims had to cope with even more emotional damage over the years.