On July 13, New York City went dark. The outage plunged 73,000 people into darkness in Midtown Manhattan and the Upper West Side on Saturday night.
The New York City Fire Department said power outages, which started just before 7 p.m., spanned midtown and the Upper West Side, from Fifth Avenue to the Hudson River and the West 40s to 72nd Street. Later, eyewitnesses reported the blackout extending to 36th Street.
But this wasn’t the first time a major power outage has hit the city on the exact same date. In 1977, in the beginning of a stifling heat wave, a 25-hour blackout sent the city into havoc.
During the blackout decades ago, people did not help guide traffic and take it in stride — like they did Saturday. Back then, a crime rampage broke out as people filled the pitch-black streets, looting and setting stores ablaze.All across Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx, more than 1,000 fires were set — 60 of them major. Nearly 2,000 properties were vandalized, two people died and 436 police officers were injured, a government study says.
The 1977 blackout was caused by a combination of events. Thunderstorms raining over the city that night triggered malfunctions in the Con Edison system, which eventually blacked out. Con Edison’s system collapsed from a combination of natural events, equipment malfunctions, questionable system design features and operating errors, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.”Of paramount importance, however, was the lack of preparation for major emergencies such that operating personnel failed to use the facilities at hand to prevent a system-wide failure,” the commission says. That blackout had an estimated cost of $350 million, according to the study.
Back to 2019: Corey Johnson, speaker for the New York City Council, tweeted that the CEO of Con Edison, John McAvoy, said there had been “a major disturbance” at a substation on West 49th Street.