Fires, Riots and Looting: Brooklyn During the 1977 Blackout

Blackout 1977 NYC Bushwick Brooklyn

Were there other people in the cage?
Yeah. Your father. And your aunt, who was only like 15 or 16. I had taken her with me; she was like a little kid. There were some other people. In fact, the people next to us that we’d been talking to knew somebody who was rioting and said, “ohhhh! Look, there’s Blahblahblah”—I don’t remember who it was—and jumped out of the ride. The guy who was driving came to the back and said, “I’m not leaving my truck down here; I’m taking it back home to Staten Island.” That’s where he lived. And we said, “oh, can you drop us off in Sunset Park?” Cuz that’s where we lived then. So he said, “yeah, yeah, ok,” and he stopped at like 55th and Third or something and let us out.

But even in Sunset Park there was stuff going on. There was somebody I knew, actually, ripping those, you know, those metal grates that cover the stores? Of a liquor store, like he had hooked up some chain to his car and was trying to rip it off. I mean, people went nuts! It was crazy. There were even fires in Sunset Park. It was nothing like Downtown Brooklyn, but it was really kinda scary. So we got out and ran up to Sixth Avenue.

What did you do during the blackout 10 years ago?
I don’t remember!

The other thing I remember [about the ’77 blackout] was that your father went to the park because you could see the stars, because all the lights were out. And everyone was giving away beer! Because, I don’t know, beer on tap, if it wasn’t kept cold, or… I don’t know how it worked. But I know that a lot of bars were giving out free beer. And everyone was drunk, and it was… What a scene! It was so crazy to be out in that.

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart

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