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July 13th in NYC History, another day of riots in different years

Posted: Jul 13, 2013 | 1:11 AM
by Jared Goldstein

1863:  Rioting against the Civil War military draft erupted in New York City; about 1,000 people died over three days
.  Mobs of Irish immigrants destroy the Union Army draft headquarters on 46th Street at the start of New York City's most violent riots. Over four days, the rioters, angry over wartime conscription, loot and set fires all over town – and at least 1,500 people, many of them freed blacks, are killed in the clashes.

1895:  A cyclone tornado slamed Woodhaven, Queens, which destroyed buildings and uprooted trees. One person died and seventeen injured in the freak storm.

1921:  Book publisher Charles Scribner, Jr. born.  He died 11/11/1995.

1939:  Frank Sinatra made his first commercial recording, "From the Bottom of My Heart" and "Melancholy Mood," with Harry James and his Orchestra on Brunswick records.

1977:  25-hour blackout in the New York City area after lightning struck upstate power lines.  Looting mobs rack up $1 billion in damages and hundreds of arrests.

Here's the linked New York Times article.

Power Failure Blacks Out New York;
Thousands Trapped In The Subways; Looters
And Vandals Hit Some Areas

Lightning Apparently to Blame--Some Suburbs Affected

By Robert D. McFadden

State Troopers Sent Into City As Crime Rises: Some Civilians Assist Police --'65 Blackout Peaceful in Contrast
Some Led Others by Flashlight, Some Knocked on Doors to Help

No Panic Reported in Subways Among Trapped Passengers
Lightning Bolt: How It Struck
Westchester Dark; Long Island's Power Interrupted Briefly
Bellevue Patients Resuscitated With Hand-Squeezed Air Bags

A vast power failure plunged New York City and Westchester County into darkness last night, disrupting the lives of nearly nine million people.

Thousands of subway riders were trapped in trains that stopped between stations. Homes and apartments went black. Thousands of people were trapped in elevators. Others stumbled and streamed from theaters, restaurants, and late-closing shops and office buildings.

The power failed at 9:34 P.M., apparently when lightning struck a Consolidated Edison electrical transmission line in northern Westchester. Like dominos falling through Westchester and the city, circuit breakers and successively overloaded transmission lines went off automatically.

A Repetition of 1965

The result, for the utility's three million customers, was a repetition of the Nov. 9, 1965 power failure evening rush hour, cutting power to the city, parts of nine northeastern states, and two provinces of Canada. But this time the lights failed at night, with no daylight left to help people get to their homes.

Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports both closed, and flights were diverted to Newark, Boston, and other airfields. Hospitals switched to emergency power sources, but the emergency units failed at Bellevue Hospital. Police Headquarters in downtown Manhattan also used standby power.

Civilians with flashlights joined policemen all over the city at major intersections to help direct traffic on highways and streets left without traffic lights.

There were reports of widespread looting and vandalism, and police sirens wailed through the dark canyons of city streets. Calls for assistance flooded into the police emergency number, 911, and operators fell far behind in answering them. In addition, the
police communications system, operating on emergency power, had difficulty reaching radio patrol cars, especially in outlying areas.

Commissioner Michael J. Codd ordered all off-duty personnel to report to the nearest precinct or command, in effect putting his entire 25,000-member force to work. About 3,000 uniformed officers were on duty at the time of the blackout.

Mayor Beame, who was at Co-op City in the Bronx when the blackout struck, hurried back to Gracie Mansion and then to City Hall, where he summoned all of his major commissioners.

In a news conference at City Hall, Commissioner Codd and his chief of operations, James F. Hannon, said the police were trying to get buses to transfer units from Staten Island to Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn.

Chief Hannon said that units were being dispatched to the most "critically needed areas" in those three boroughs.

In addition to the police, all firemen and corrections officers were ordered to report for duty immediately. Off-duty firemen were told to report to the fire station or police precinct stationhouse nearest their home.

While Police Headquarters had emergency power, City Hall did not and planning for the emergency unfolded in candlelight until the Fire Department brought in gasoline generators to supply light at about 11:30 P.M.

Power on Staten Island

Only some sections of Staten Island and buildings with their own emergency generators had power during the blackout.

When the lights flickered and then went out, there were some gleeful, spontaneous shouts from knots of people on the streets.

Rockefeller Center soon drew Christmas-like crowds, but they came not for a treat, but to stroll through the powerful and somber group of towers.

Across the city, candles flickered in homes and apartments. In the darkness the thoroughfares became rivers of lights as cars and buses moved at reduced speed, halting frequently at the waving flashlights of volunteers who were directing traffic. People in
the streets and aboard buses spoke to strangers and talked of the great blackout of 1965.

Along Fulton Street in Brookyn, "fairly severe" looting took place immediately after the blackout. Entire storefronts were ripped away and the stores looted.

There were so many arrests in Brooklyn that the police said they had lost count. The prisoners were left at the 84th precinct station by police officers who forgot about the paperwork of the arrests and rushed back into the streets.

At the Bronx House of Detention, a disturbance broke out shortly after the black-out occurred, according to Mayor Beame. The police and the Corrections Department rushed reinforcements to the scene.

Shortly after midnight, a police spokesman said that inmates at the Bronx jail had taken over the guard house. It was not immediately known if any guards were being held hostage or how many prisoners were involved.

Bellevue Hospital's backup emergency power went out shortly after midnight. Doctors and nurses squeezed bags of air with their hands to resuscitate patients when respirators stopped, and emergency generators were brought in.

The Red Cross set up emergency medical centers at Pennsylvania Station and Grand Central Terminal, and some armories were reported opened for first aid.

Some Trains Stranded

About a dozen Long Island Rail Road trains were stranded in Queens, according to a spokesman for the line.

A Transit Authority spokesman said that auxiliary power had been used to move subway trains into stations and that, as a result, only seven trains, carrying several thousand riders, had been trapped on the system. Two trains were on the Manhattan Bridge.

While the subways had emergency power to get trains into the nearest station, the subway system shut down during the power outage, and the auxiliary power was used to light some station platforms. In most instances, people emerging from trains were orderly, but others found it difficult to retain their composure in the pitch darkness of some stations.

In lower Manhattan at the IRT Fulton Street station, a train pulled in just after the blackout, and the passengers groped along the station wall in the darkness in search of an exit. In the confusion, some were whimpering, but there was no panic.

Looting appeared to be the worst public safety problem. In a stereo store called Tech Hi-Fi at 112th Street and Broadway, a crowd ripped away a metal grating and smashed the windows with a litter basket.

At the Radio Clinic, 13 blocks south on Broadway, looters took television sets, small appliances, and other items. A policeman said that he had grabbed a young boy and a girl outside but that "the bottles started flying . . . we got back in our cars and we went."

The police later came back in force and arrested numerous bottle throwers. Some of those taken into custody were still carrying television and hi-fi sets and stolen clothing when they were taken into the stationhouses.

Looting also was reported on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx and bottle throwing was reported also in Harlem and downtown Brooklyn. At least four police officers were injured and hospitalized.

Fire Alarms Triggered

Fires were set in trash baskets in many parts of the city, and there was a heavy demand for fire equipment as alarm boxes were pulled all over the city.

Elsewhere burglar alarms clanged stridently in the darkness. Many people were said to have left restaurants without paying their bills.

Massive crowds gathered outside Lincoln Center and along Broadway in the Times Square theater district as people left darkened theaters. The blackout interrupted a Mets baseball game at Shea Stadium in Queens, and 15,000 fans groped their way out.

The police said the worst incidents of looting were in downtown Brooklyn, East Harlem and on the Upper West Side. A police officer said that Third Avenue in East Harlem "is demolished," and added, "it's like a bomb hit it."

Many Looters Arrested

Along Broadway between 96th and 106th Streets more than a dozen stores were looted, and at least 30 people were arrested and taken to the West 100th Street stationhouse.

A police officer at the Alexander Avenue station in the South Bronx said of the looting, "they hit every store in the 40-block area."

By 1 a.m., 70 people were under arrest at the West 100th Street station on looting charges, and the stationhouse began to look like a department store, with looted items--appliances, leather chairs, clothing--stacked up in the muster rooms.

The police said that as of 1 a.m. there had been 309 arrests throughout the city, nearly all for looting.

There were islands of serenity amid the confusion. The Statue of Liberty's lights continued to shine over the Upper Bay; people in their homes and apartments dined by candlelight, and no serious problems at all were reported in Westchester County.

"All's quiet," said Police Chief Charles G. McLaughlin in Rye. "We have a nice quiet community under any circumstances."


How does this blackout relate to the birth of Hip Hop?  Too many turntables.


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