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24 WTF Pictures From When New York Went Totally Dark In 1977

24 WTF Pictures From When New York Went Totally Dark In 1977

Over 1 million New Yorkers — in the heat of summer — without lights, air-conditioning, public transit, traffic signals, or alarm systems. What could possibly go wrong?

Posted on July 13, 2017, at 5:14 p.m. ET

On the evening of July 13, 1977, New York City went pitch black after a lightning strike set off a chain reaction — effectively shutting down the city's power network, and leaving over 1 million New Yorkers without electricity for 25 hours straight.

By the time the lights turned back on, over 1,000 fires and citywide looting had left the city in shambles. Here's what the scene looked like.


At dawn on July 14, the Manhattan skyline shows no lights due to the blackout.
Allan Tannenbaum / Getty Images

At dawn on July 14, the Manhattan skyline shows no lights due to the blackout.

New Yorkers jam the Brooklyn Bridge on their way home, after the power outage shut down the subway system.
Underwood Archives / Getty Images

New Yorkers jam the Brooklyn Bridge on their way home, after the power outage shut down the subway system.

Auxiliary lights, including the headlights of cars in center field, light up Shea Stadium during a baseball game between the New York Mets and the Chicago Cubs at the height of the blackout.
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

Auxiliary lights, including the headlights of cars in center field, light up Shea Stadium during a baseball game between the New York Mets and the Chicago Cubs at the height of the blackout.

A time-lapse view of street traffic (left) as it illuminates Manhattan. Passengers on the A train (right) are helped onto the tracks after being stranded during the blackout.
Getty Images

A time-lapse view of street traffic (left) as it illuminates Manhattan. Passengers on the A train (right) are helped onto the tracks after being stranded during the blackout.

Police carry a woman off the A train on a stretcher, after she went into labor during the blackout.
New York Post Archives / Getty Images

Police carry a woman off the A train on a stretcher, after she went into labor during the blackout.

This image of the New York skyline during the blackout reveals that some lights remained on with the support of backup generators.
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

This image of the New York skyline during the blackout reveals that some lights remained on with the support of backup generators.

People (left) gather on and around a monument to entertainer George M. Cohan in a darkened Times Square during the power outage. Stranded people (right) sleep in the lobby at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel during the blackout.
Getty Images

People (left) gather on and around a monument to entertainer George M. Cohan in a darkened Times Square during the power outage. Stranded people (right) sleep in the lobby at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel during the blackout.

People huddle against the information kiosk in Grand Central Station after being stranded by the power failure. The clock on the kiosk shows the correct time, but the clock to its left stopped when the power failed.
Steve Oualline / AP

People huddle against the information kiosk in Grand Central Station after being stranded by the power failure. The clock on the kiosk shows the correct time, but the clock to its left stopped when the power failed.

A view of the New York skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge during the blackout.
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

A view of the New York skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge during the blackout.

A restaurant owner, with only liquor left after his refrigerators failed, advertises an open bar during the blackout.
Brian Alpert / Getty Images

A restaurant owner, with only liquor left after his refrigerators failed, advertises an open bar during the blackout.

During the citywide blackout, a group of people have drinks on the sidewalk in Soho.
Allan Tannenbaum / Getty Images

During the citywide blackout, a group of people have drinks on the sidewalk in Soho.

An aerial view of a Brooklyn building burning in the wake of the blackout.
Robert R. Mcelroy / Getty Images

An aerial view of a Brooklyn building burning in the wake of the blackout.

Two men carry a chest down a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. Police reported that looting in some areas of the city continued well into the daylight hours of July 14. A reported 3,373 people were arrested on charges of looting and vandalism.
Mc / AP

Two men carry a chest down a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. Police reported that looting in some areas of the city continued well into the daylight hours of July 14. A reported 3,373 people were arrested on charges of looting and vandalism.

A police officer collars a looter in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn as the blackout continued.
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

A police officer collars a looter in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn as the blackout continued.

Mannequins (left) lie strewn on the ground below the broken windows of a clothing store — the result of looting along upper Broadway during the blackout. Pedestrians (right) stand around the site of a traffic accident involving a car and a taxi.
Getty Images

Mannequins (left) lie strewn on the ground below the broken windows of a clothing store — the result of looting along upper Broadway during the blackout. Pedestrians (right) stand around the site of a traffic accident involving a car and a taxi.

Looters — young and old — leave a supermarket at Ogden Avenue and 166th Street in the Bronx.
Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Looters — young and old — leave a supermarket at Ogden Avenue and 166th Street in the Bronx.

A group of men are handcuffed in a line after being arrested for looting.
Allan Tannenbaum / Getty Images

A group of men are handcuffed in a line after being arrested for looting.

Police officers stand in front of a damaged storefront which was looted in the wake of the blackout.
Robert R. Mcelroy / Getty Images

Police officers stand in front of a damaged storefront which was looted in the wake of the blackout.

Two boys (left) sell candles in Tribeca during the blackout. A man with his head bandaged (right) lies on the pavement after being mugged on Sixth Avenue near 57th Street.
Left: Getty Images Right: AP

Two boys (left) sell candles in Tribeca during the blackout. A man with his head bandaged (right) lies on the pavement after being mugged on Sixth Avenue near 57th Street.

The twin towers of the World Trade Center on the first morning of the blackout.
Allan Tannenbaum / Getty Images

The twin towers of the World Trade Center on the first morning of the blackout.


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