About the Show

Documentary. As 13 July 1977 dawned hot and humid, New Yorkers were feeling down on their luck. The crime-ridden city was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Unemployment was high and services had been cut. A series of lightning strikes cut off electricity to the entire metropolitan area, plunging some seven million people into darkness. Within minutes the looting began. The police commissioner called in the city's entire 25,000-strong officer force, but only 8,000 reported for duty. By the time the lights went back on more than a day later, 2,000 businesses had been looted, 4,000 people arrested, and firefighters had battled more than 1,000 fires. Told through the memories of New Yorkers who lived through the events in a hospital critical care unit, the candlelit offices of The New York Times, the streets of Bushwick in Brooklyn, and the control centre of Consolidated Edison on West End Avenue, Blackout examines how the 1977 power outage came about, and what changes were enacted.