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10.VI.A

New York City (NYC)
The Northeast Blackout - 1965

 
 
Northwest Blackout of 1965
Photo Credit: The Guardian
 
     
 

On November 9, 1965, at approximately 5:27 p.m., electricity went out all the way from Ontario to NYC and Buffalo, to the eastern border of New Hampshire. Everything in the Northeast came to a complete stop. The blackout, which lasted for about 14 hours, was caused by a faulty relay in the Adam Beck Station of Ontario, Canada. Traffic lights ceased working, making travel by cars and busses extremely difficult. Trains carrying passengers were stuck in tunnels and many were stuck in elevators. Tourists and commuters were forced to find alternative shelter. As a result, hotel lobbies were filled with stranded travelers. Nevertheless, New Yorkers found ways to help the community through the blackout: some assisted the Fire Department rescue team, others helped direct traffic. Many shared candles and flashlights with neighbors throughout the night.

Following World War II, the United States was enjoying an age of prosperity in which the use of new technology began to dominate people's lives. As families and professionals began to integrate the use of mechanical appliances in their homes and offices, new and efficient ways of generating power became a necessary undertaking. By the 1960's, electricity had become affordable and electrical consumption had doubled every decade after the war. This dramatic increase in consumption was coupled with the design of an elaborate grid system in the Northeast, in which electric power plants in several key locations were interconnected by a complicated network of high voltage electrical wires. This system allowed electricity to flow efficiently across huge areas of land, even during the peak hours of public demand.

Electric companies learned many important lessons from the blackout of 1965, one of them being the importance of corrective measures to prevent such blackouts from happening again. The Northeast Reliability Council and New York Power Pool were two regulatory organizations that emerged after the blackout. Their role was to ensure that the quality of the equipment was kept up to standards across all power plants. As a result they set the standards for the best possible operational guidelines in the industry.

 
     
 
Source:
blackout.gmu.edu-great_northeast_blackout