The Northeast Blackout of 1965

The Northeast blackout of 1965 happened around sunset on November 9, 1965 after a safety relay, sort of like a circuit breaker and around the size of shoebox, tripped and caused the power outage throughout parts of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Vermont, and Pennsylvania. It affected over 30 million people and the power was down for nearly 13 hours in many places. It's thought that the cause was that the limit was set too low on a relay. So, as the sun set and the temperature fell, power usage spiked (due to home heating) and caused the device to trip and the grid to go down.

At the time it was one of the largest power outages ever experienced. Like in 2003, there was a cascade of failures that made the outage become more widespread. Citizens of New York City using public transport had no choice but to walk. Only it was at night instead of during the day (as it was in 2003). Endless numbers of citizens in NYC were stuck in elevators. From the subways, 800,000 people had to walk through the pitch black tunnels and to street level. Once above, they were greeted by a quieter city and the brilliance of the full moon in the sky providing most of the street lighting.

Following the event, "Where were you when the lights went out?" became a saying and also became the title of a comedy film that gives a fictional account of the experiences of an actress during the blackout. The incident also became the subject of a few television shows.

Due to the outage, policies were implemented to try and prevent future widespread incidents of this sort. This led to the cooperation of utility companies and the creation of the National Electric Reliability Council.


See also:

Rutland City in the Dark: Northeast Blackout of November 9th, 1965

The 1977 Blackout

2003 - Blackout hits Northeast United States

Interesting Read >> Unidentified Flying Objects in the sky during the 1965 blackout
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