In early November of 1965, at the height of the cold war, 30 million people living in the most densely populated region of the United States experienced a cascading power failure which blacked out almost the entire Northeast in less than fifteen minutes. Rising to the occasion, New Yorkers assisted each other in a spirit of cooperation and community uncharacteristic of ordinary city life. Twelve years later, in the summer of 1977, the New York metropolitan region experienced another massive power outage, but this time the popular response was quite different. Devastating riots and looting engulfed the poorer sections of the city, inflicting enormous economic damage at a time when New York City was already on its knees.
This comprehensive site focuses on the history of the 1965 blackout in the Northeastern United States and the 1977 blackout in New York City. These two landmark events in the history of technology and the cultural history of America are recounted in a number of ways: through interviews, excerpts from various media, a timeline of events, recent historical writing, and, most compellingly, a growing database of first-hand recollections entered by visitors to the site. These recollections cover both the behind-the-scenes experiences of those who worked for the utility companies and the people who lived through the events. The site is therefore an excellent example of how to create an oral history archive on the Web, as well as a good source for understanding the tremendous social, cultural and technological impact the blackouts had on the people who lived through them.