July 13, 1977: Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

The Brooklyn Eagle remembers the Blackout of 1977, 32 years later.   Where were you when it all happened?

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  • nabeguy

    I was in an windowless interior stairwell. When the lights went out, I thought it was a fuse, but when I reached the top of the stairs and still could not see a trace of any light, I thought I had gone blind. I stood stock still for 3 or 4 minutes of sheer panic until my eyes adjusted enough to just make out the soft glow of a flourescent sign. At that point, I had a new thought…I was dead and seeing the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. It took another minute or so for me to discern what the light said…EMERGENCY EXIT. Indeed.

  • http://www.brooklynbackstretch.com Teresa

    In the car driving home from my cousins’ house in Rockland County. We thought it was weird when the TV signal went out there; it really hit us when we got to the Tappan Zee Bridge and there were NO LIGHTS ANYWHERE!

  • AEB

    I get my blackouts confused; they all seem to blend.

    Was the last one the one when, within a few hours after it began, nearly everyone was barbecuing in the streets?

    The one in which one had to throw out EVERYTHING that was in the fridge?

  • Nelson

    The 77 black out was the ugly one. It was hot and humid. I was in a 17th floor apt at 299 West 12 St. and as I talked to a friend who lived on Charlton St., she said, “oh, I’ve just blown a fuse.”..and I turned to look out the window uptown and saw that the Empire State Bldg was dark and block by block was going off. The heat was uncomfortable, we had no water on the 17th floor, had to carry my dog down a dark staiwell lit with smelly kerosene lanterns. Riots and looting…not a pretty bit of history.

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com Claude Scales

    I was in a bar called Chelsea Common on 10th Avenue between 23rd and 24th. The staff closed the place as soon as the power failed. I was alone, and walked downtown to my local (I lived in the Village), the Bells of Hell, on 13th between 6th and 7th. I got there and, as expected, found the place doing lively business by candlelight, with the ancient mechanical cash register going “ching! ching!” I stayed well past midnight, but had to manage (in my less than optimal mental and physical state) climbing eight floors of darkened stairs to get to my apartment.

  • nabeguy

    Claude, wasn’t it called Hell’s Bells? I remember going to the opening of it, which as I recall was opened by some refugees from the Irish bar on 6th and 4th (name escapes me right now). I remember Fred McDarragh running around at the opening taking pictures of everyone, until my father clued me into the fact that he only carried one roll of film and most of the pics were “glory shots”

  • Teddy

    I was a small child growing up here in the Heights and remember being in bed at the time when the AC went out. My mom came into my room with a flashlight. That’s all I remember (I was 5). When I got older I found out how bad it got with the looting & riots.

  • nabeguy

    Besides the blackout, that was also the Summer of Sam, the murder of John Lennon, and the Yankees winning the World Series. And the year I discovered Hurrah’s.

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com Claude Scales

    Nabeguy, some people did call it “Hell’s Bells”, but the official name, spelled out on the awning, was “The Bells of Hell”, also the title (as I point out in my post), of a British army song. It was started by Malachy McCourt, who may have been one of the refugees from that other place. By the time I started going there, Malachy had sold it to two Brits, Peter Myers and Tony Heyes.

  • GHB

    Nabeguy, John Lennon died in 1980, not 1977

  • Shelton,WA

    right about the middle of the Cypress Hills projects heading for the A train home

  • sue

    I was living at 140 Cadman, watching Baretta, when the TV went off. I stood up to see the skyline go dark. My parents had company over, my dad’s boss and his wife, and his boss actually found a cab willing to take him home, but his cool and adventurous wife and I slept on the terrace that night. We made a huge omelet the next day with the eggs that would have gone bad, and then I spent the day filling buckets from a hydrant to supply the older people in the building with water. I knew about the looting, but the Heights was peaceful and felt like a community. Later on, I got a great tshirt that said “Where were you when the lights went out on July 13, 1977?” — wish I still had it. Bet the hipsters would pay big bucks for it (but I wouldn’t sell it for all the PBR in the world…)

  • nabeguy

    Claude, I can’t imagine why I blanked on the name of the other bar onm Sixth. It was McBell’s (duh!)

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com Claude Scales

    I vaguely remember McBell’s, though I don’t think I ever went there. It hadn’t occurred to me before, but maybe that was Malachy’s inspiration for calling his new place the Bells of Hell.

  • nabeguy

    I don’t recall the full story behind Bells, but it definitely had something to do with McBell’s and some kind of rift between owners. McBell’s was a great Irsh bar and shared many of its patrons with the Lions Head, as well as the theater crowd (Burghof and Hagen were regulars)

  • Andrew Porter

    Nothing happened in the Heights, but lots of neighborhoods, particularly Flatbush, reacted to the looting by buying heavy metal shutters for the stores. So instead of the light from store windows lighting up the streets, for several decades we had block of after block of heavy gray metal shutters lining the streets. Some neighborhoods still have them, and the city is worse for it.

  • Betsy

    When the lights went out I was eating alone down in Chinatown, and had to get home to the village. Once there, I led other tenants up 26 flights of stairs with a candle in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

    Next day was hot, and I thought about going to McBells, but was afraid I’d be caught by one of my bosses and dragged in to work at Gil’s, down the street. Instead, I hid out at Grand Ticino, which had the benefit of being below street level, and therefore was kind of cool. They cooked a feast of fresh meat and fish, and trucks came in a couple of time from New Jersey with shipments of ice.

    You could often find me on the short corner of the bar at McBells. It was my second home. Francis Campbell (the owner) would let me keep a cucumber in the bar fridge to make Pimm’s Cup in the summer months. What wonderful memories-so sad these great old places are gone. Wonderful cheeseburgers and chicken pot pies!