Le Burger Bistro on Madison Avenue follows the inspiration of many by turning the blackout into a business opportunity.
A sense of free-for-all reigned in many areas of the city, inspiring looting sprees in areas where law enforcement was stretched thin and electrical security systems failed. The International Herald-Tribune shares details of the blackout with its international audience two days later. And finally, a couple pieces of video footage from the blackout, the first some raw video (with intermittent sound) with the fire department battling blazes, the second a newscast from WABC You can find more pictures on the blackout in our 2007 post, recognizing the 30th anniversary.
For more information on the 1977 blackout, you can listen to one of our very first podcast — believe it or no, Episode 5!
Help out the Bowery Boys!Become a patron of the Bowery Boys for as little as $1 a month and help us produce twice as many shows! If someone pines for anytime before the 20th Century, quickly find the nearest exit and run until this person is out of your life forever. From the moment the Dutch West India Company purchased the island of Manhattan from the Lenape in 1626 to the days of the Tammany Hall political machine in the late 1800’s, New York City was, to put it very delicately, a work in progress.
The reality was that even the rich in the early 1900’s were unable to escape the ailments of the less-fortunate. One look at the famous Life Magazine picture of a sailor kissing a girl in Times Square on V-J day and its fun to long for the days of rubbing elbows with “The Greatest Generation.” Bob Dylan was kicking off the folk music scene in the Village.
A closer look at “The Greatest Generation” and it becomes clear not everything was great after the war heroes returned home. It was impossible to drive through town without being shaken down by homeless men brandishing filthy squeegees at every stoplight.
All that sexual freedom from the 1970’s came to a crashing halt as the AIDS epidemic hit the city in 1981. Racial tensions were higher than ever with deadly hate crimes committed in Howard Beach and Bensonhurst.
It’s hard to believe too many people would be nostalgic for the David Dinkins era at the start of the 1990s. The grunge music craze turned into grunge fashion which, unfortunately, featured men and women dressing like lumberjacks for a solid five year stretch.


So, if some insufferable person refers to the “good old days,” make sure you fire back with an equally insufferable response – a quote from Proust. By 9:36 pm on July 13, 1977, the entire Con Edison power system for the city shut down, the devastating endpoint of a chain reaction which began with a lightening strike at an electrical substation 40 minutes before. Director Godfrey Reggio was in the city at the time and included some of his images in the atmospheric Philip Glass film.
Not exactly popular to begin with, Beame was swept out of office in the next election, with the events of this day weighing heavily on voters’ minds. One hundred and forty-nine years ago today, the Civil War Draft Riots began, an even greater city-wide trauma that lasted almost a full week. Oppressive British rule, riots, war, cholera, racism, corruption, and slavery played major roles in this nearly 400 year stretch.
Affluent families that made the mistake of hiring typhoid-infected personal chefs like Mary Mallon were treated to a plateful of illness or death. Jobs were scarce and homelessness reached epic levels.  Shantytowns or “Hoovervilles” sprang up on Central Park’s Great Lawn and along the East and Hudson Rivers. The Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, a predominantly black community, was largely ignored by the sanitation department. Prior to the New York Divorce Reform Law of 1966, verbal or physical abuse got her a pat on the head and she was forced to return to her marriage. Clubs like CBGB ushered in a new era of punk and new wave music like the Ramones and Blondie. By 1985, New York City had more cases of the deadly disease (4,133) than any other city in the world. Subway muggings were so prevalent that Bernard Goetz, a man who opened fire on the subway at four teenagers, was hailed as a folk hero. Places like Grand Central Terminal and Bryant Park were overrun with drug pushers and prostitutes. And, quite unfortunately, these incidents gave a visible profile to the blowhard known as Al Sharpton.
As long as you didn’t listen to Jenny McCarthy’s vaccination views, disease is under control.


For more information on that, you can listen to our show about this event, Episode 127, on our regular iTunes feed or download that from here. Plus, if you wanted to unwind with a cocktail after work, you had to remember a secret knock or password just to get into a speakeasy.
The end of this era was punctuated by thousands of young men being drafted to fight in Vietnam.
In the second half of the 1980’s, crack took off. As result, so did a rise in violent crimes. Recorded just last year at this time, I think we did a pretty great job on it if I do say so myself! The Roaring Twenties and the Harlem Renaissance brought a time of cultural freedom and fun. New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen had everybody singing his “Born in the USA” (even though nobody actually listened to the words).
Madonna sung about being “A Material Girl.” A new genre of music, rap, was exploding across the city. Evenings are no longer dictated by whether or not you read the arts and leisure section in the morning paper.
The Lexington Avenue Express was known as the “Muggers Express.” Teenaged prostitutes roamed the city en masse.
You no longer have to endure some way-too-pleased-with-himself guy blowing cigar smoke in your face while trying to enjoy a meal at a restaurant.
To make matters worse, there was a 25-hour blackout right in the middle of the manhunt for the Son of Sam.



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