The Infamous NYC Blackout Of 1977

By Kanyi M April 25, 2023

In the history of New York City, a few moments stand out as being more significant than others. On July 13, 1977, one such moment occurred when a lightning bolt struck an electricity transmission tower in Westchester County and consequently plunged the entire city into darkness.

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The event was so significant that it even made its way into popular culture, such as the Talking Heads song New York 1977. While New Yorkers today don’t often mention it, this event is still memorable for those who experienced it firsthand or the fortunate ones who watched it unfold live on TV. And now that we’re all back online with lightning-speed internet connections, this is worth looking back on and learning from.

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The 25-hour power outage began at 9:28 pm and affected all five boroughs and left half of Manhattan and the Bronx in total darkness. The power outage was not the only problem to arise during this day. There were also numerous reports of looting, car thefts, assaults, and fires. Police officers were having a difficult time controlling the chaos. On television, anchors reported that up to 100 people had been mugged as soon as the power went out, chaos at local hospitals as emergency backup generators failed, and food shortages due to supermarkets shutting down.
As more information on this event became readily available in the following years, it has become more clear why this event played such an important role in shaping modern life in New York City. For one thing, it was shocking to many that over 15 million people lost all power at once.