Reflections on the Blackout of 2003

Posted on: August 14th, 2008 at 11:43 am by

This image has been archived or removed.

[Gridlock, 4th Street @ Bowery]

August 14, 2003 was a seasonably warm Thursday, and coincidentally, the end of my internship downtown. To everyone else, though, it was just another day at the office. So, when the electricity unexpectedly cut out, everyone was amped to party. Our blasé reaction wasn’t completely unfounded, especially since isolated blackout pockets are fairly common. And although the buildings across the street were also dark, I still dismissed it as typical Con Ed shenanigans. However, when I noticed the powerless traffic lights and the resultant automotive gridlock, I knew a much larger issue was at stake. Only then was my doomsday instinct triggered – terrorist attack, get going! Not all of my co-workers shared such potent paranoia, and quickly decided to pound a few drinks at Swift while the brew was still cold.

This image has been archived or removed.

This image has been archived or removed.

Unable to commute and already buzzed from a few pints, I decided to stay with one of my fellow comrades in Williamsburg. Upon leaving Swift, the modified plan was to meet his wife in Sara D. Roosevelt Park on the north side of Delancey. The walk to the rendezvous was an experience in itself. The streets were a mess, with people scattered everywhere and cars in a virtual standstill. Not to mention tempers were flaring like crazy. Indeed, I witnessed a day laborer running to attack some random dude with his crowbar at the southeast corner of Forsyth and Delancey.

This image has been archived or removed.

This image has been archived or removed.

Crossing the Williamsburg bridge with my fellow city brethren was most memorable. I had never before seen hordes of New Yorkers so friendly and altruistic. It seemed that people were congregating everywhere, bonding over shared war stories. No doubt a form of camaraderie rarely seen around here. Looking back now, that experience was one of both adventure and excitement. It was also a much-needed reset button for a town with backward priorities.

This image has been archived or removed.

This image has been archived or removed.

My apologies for the poor picture quality. These shots were taken with a 2.0 MP Fujifilm camera, without zoom. Cut me some slack, it was 2003.

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