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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

Facts about... The 20th anniversary of the New York City electricity blackout


CURWOOD: Twenty years ago this month, New Yorkers got a rare chance to stargaze when a few well-placed lightening bolts turned out the lights, all the lights, in the Big Apple. More than 9 million people went without electricity after power lines north of the city got knocked out and backup systems failed. It didn't help that temperatures had been in the 90s for a few days, so power usage was at a peak. The entire city, including both airports and Wall Street, shut down. It took 25 hours to restore full power. The blackout brought out the best and worst in people. Outlaws broke into more than 2,000 stores and did millions of dollars of damage. Meanwhile, without television and other such distractions, folks talked more to their families, friends, and neighbors. Some got to know each other very well while stuck in elevators. Today, a blackout of similar proportions is near impossible, officials tell us. That claim may soon be put to the test. Con Edison is predicting all-time record levels of electricity usage this summer. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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