At 9:27 p.m. on July 13, 1977, the biggest generator in New York shut down, leaving the city without power. The result of a succesion of lightning strikes and failures on the part of Con Edison to cope with the deteriorating situation, the '77 blackout affected nearly all of the city. Some neighborhoods in southern Queens and the Rockaways stayed bright, thanks to their being part of the Long Island Lighting Company system.
In the dark, these were the facts: The city was trapped in a brutal heat wave; the Son of Sam murderer was still at large; and an economic downturn that was affecting the entire nation had hit the city's poorest neighborhoods particularly hard, leaving people frustrated and angry.
Because the blackout occurred after many businesses had closed, looting was easy; the store owners weren't around to protect their wares, as had been the case during the blackout of '65.
Shea Stadium went dark during the bottom of the sixth.
LaGuardia and Kennedy airports closed.
ConEd described it as an "act of god," enraging then-mayor Abe Beam. Gabriel Santacruz, a priest in Bushwick, looked into the faces of his congregation on the Sunday after the blackout and quipped, "We are without God now."
Thirty-one neighborhoods fell prey to looters and vandals and arsonists. On the morning of July 14, 25 fires burned in Bushwick. Fifty cars had been stolen from a dealership in the Bronx. In the largest mass arrest the city has ever seen, 3,776 people were apprehended at once.
Over 24 hours later, at 10:39 p.m on July 14, all of the city had power once again.
These are photos of what happened 35 years ago, during the New York blackout of 1977.