Today is the tenth-year anniversary of the Northeast Blackout of 2003 which shut down power for most of New York City (and much of the Northeast) for almost 24 hours, with some areas experiencing outages well into the second day.
I was on the 35th floor of the Bertelsmann Building in the middle of Times Square. My co-workers and I traipsed down 35 floors under the glow of emergency lighting.
As ATM machines were offline, I had a grand total of $5 in my pocket, so I was unable to enjoy any of the cheap-beer and bbq fests that were underway in the East Village, as bars and restaurants rid themselves of items before they spoiled. Down in the Lower East Side, it was a lonely night under candlelight, trying to tune in updates on my old battery-operated portable television.
We still didn’t have electricity the next day, so I walked the Manhattan Bridge over to Cobble Hill, where power had been restored, and there I hung out at my friend’s shop Halcyon the entire day, a place filled with Manhattan refugees that day. I returned over the bridge in the evening, but the Lower East Side still did not have power.
The heat was slowly driving people insane; I remember seeing a woman carrying groceries for some place a few miles away and almost collapsing on the street. Had the power not returned then that evening at 10 pm, it probably would have gotten a bit messy in the LES. (It all seems so relatively manageable, of course, in light of the Sandy blackout.
Here’s a few more recollections from Twitter. If you lived in the northeast United States then, where were you ten years ago during the blackout? Leave your recollections in the notes here, or on Twitter of Facebook:
Some links on the blackout:
Gothamist: Flashback — Massive Blackout Hit NYC 10 Years Ago Today
New York Times: Original coverage from August 2013
WNYC radio piece of the tenth-anniversary of the blackout