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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?

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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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


BuzzFeed's resident photo geek.

Contact Gabriel H. Sanchez at gabriel.sanchez@buzzfeed.com.

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