Blackout13 July 2009
32 years ago today. NYC went dark.
Unlike other blackouts that affected the region, namely the Northeast Blackout of 1965 and the Northeast Blackout of 2003, the 1977 blackout was localized to New York City and the immediate surroundings. The 1977 blackout, unlike the 1965 and 2003 blackouts, resulted in city-wide looting and other disorder, including arson.
Looting and vandalism were widespread, especially in the African American and Puerto Rican communities, hitting 31 neighborhoods, including every poor neighborhood in the city. Among the hardest hit were Crown Heights, where 75 stores on a five-block stretch were looted, and Bushwick where arson was rampant with some 25 fires still burning the next morning. At one point two blocks of Broadway, which separates Bushwick from Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, were on fire.
Looting of electronics stores during the blackout allowed a number of kids to obtain DJ equipment. As a result, the Hip Hop genre, barely known outside of The Bronx, grew at an astounding rate from 1977 onwards.
According to Grandmaster Caz “It was like Christmas for black people” he said. “The next day there were a thousand new D.J.’s.”