Summer of Sam Revisited: The 1977 Blackout Thirty years ago tonight, the lights went out in New York City. Unlike the placid blackout of 2003, the 1977 blackout plunged a weary, wary city into inky mayhem. Fires burned in Bushwick. Looters tore into Crown Heights. A significant chunk of Broadway was ablaze. Damages went into the hundreds of millions. And no one got shot. In a special issue on the blackout published on August 1, 1977, New York’s Thomas Plate wrote about what the cops did and didn’t do that dark night. “ [I]t is still somewhat reassuring to know that the NYPD’s behavior during the blackout was far more thought out than Con Ed’s.” Considering what happened in Queens last summer, that is reassuring indeed.
Why The Cops Didn’t Shoot [NYM (pdf)]
in other news
Koch on the Summer of Sam: The First Time He Abandoned the GaysThe Post is having everyone but David Berkowitz wax rhapsodic about the summer of 1977 — wait, maybe that’s the big final installment! — and today it’s Mayor Koch’s turn to brag how he “Helped Put Juice Back in the Big Apple” (despite the fact that he wasn’t the mayor yet when the blackout hit — merely a candidate). So, where was Candidate Koch when the lights went out? The perfect place, it appears. “On the 17th floor of an apartment house being interviewed by a citywide gay caucus,” he writes. “I told them that within the first 30 days of my administration, I would issue an executive order prohibiting discrimination by government in employment or housing based on sexual orientation.” Um, Ed? The task was to reminisce about the blackout, not to suck up to the people who still detest your inaction on AIDS. But go on! “The room … suddenly went black and the meeting ended. I walked down the 17 floors to my campaign bus.” Leaving the gay caucus, as it were, in the dark.
How I Helped Put Juice Back in Big Apple [NYP]
in other news
It’s Too Darn HotWeather.com tells us it’ll reach a high of 97 degrees today, with 48 percent humidity. (Weather.com apparently also thinks we get to play golf on Mondays.) As the Week in Review conscientiously explained yesterday, that means it’ll feel like it’s 110 degrees or so, which is only —only! — dangerous heat, not extremely dangerous heat. Still, any bets on when the first blackout hits the Upper East Side?
New York, NY [Weather.com]
How Hot Is It? Check the Heat Index [NYT]
Earlier: First Blackout of ‘07
Yes, the blackout yesterday sucked. But it could have been worse: You could have been trying to get home to Westchester.
*Yes, yes. This used to be headlined “Rabbit Stranded.” It was early and we were tired and we mixed up our Updike and our Cheever. Sorry.
it just happened
First Blackout of ‘07!Okay, a week or so without electricity in Queens is one thing. But now we’re hearing that there’s an outage on — gulp! — the Upper East Side this afternoon. The Con Ed Website says nothing, but we’ve received two three unconfirmed reports. Plus the lights in the office dimmed for a second like twenty minutes ago, and we think we just heard a fire truck going up Madison. That’s good enough for us.
UPDATE: Yup, various local news sources say there’s an outage across a swath of the Upper East Side (though different sources say different swaths), that parts of the Bronx have lost power, too, and that subway service is affected on some if not all of the Lexington Avenue lines, and maybe on the E and/or V as well.
UPDATE 2: Sewell Chan, naturally, has the most comprehensive info. “An explosion this afternoon at an electrical substation in the Bronx has knocked out power to 136,700 customers in the Bronx and Manhattan and disrupted subway service on several of the city’s busiest subway lines — the Nos. 4, 5 and 6 and E and V lines on the East Side and the D line in the Bronx — according to officials with the city government and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority,” he writes. There’s also apparently some trouble with the D and with Metro-North trains into Grand Central.