LOOK BACK:1977 New York City blackout on its 40th anniversary

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Eyewitness News coverage of the 1977 power outage

July 13, 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the "Great New York Energy Crisis of 1977," when a 24-hour power outage made most of New York City go dark and caused a crime wave.

During this outage, residents went without water or electricity for a two-night, 24-hour period. A thunderstorm triggered a Con Edison system malfunction, which caused the blackout.

PHOTOS: 40 year anniversary of the 1977 New York City blackout



According to Eyewitness News's 1977 coverage of the event, the NYPD arrested more than 3,000 people for looting and disorderly conduct. More than 850 fires burned through the city, and 150 state troopers were called in to patrol the highways.

"As for the looters, vandals and arsonists, it was Christmas in July, a fiesta, a carnival, a holiday," former Eyewitness News Reporter Milton Lewis said about the outage. "They especially enjoyed throwing eggs at me and my crew."

A looter even tried to sell stolen jewelry to an Eyewitness News reporter on air.

Amid the pandemonium, six inmates escaped from Rikers Island prison.

Former New York City Mayor Abraham "Abe" Beame called the cause of the outage "gross negligence," but Con Edison claimed that it was an extremely unlikely "act of god" scenario.

Beame asked religious leaders to ride with police officers during patrols to try to appeal to their communities.

Public transportation was significantly impacted by the outage. After the outage, only 65 percent of subways were running.

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Marcus Solis reports on how New Yorkers are handling the heat 40 years after the blackout of 1977.


Related Topics:
power outagenew york cityhistoryNew York City
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