The Summer Blackout of 2003 Was 10 Years Ago Today

Posted on: August 14th, 2013 at 11:00 am by

This image has been archived or removed.

We originally ran this post five years ago. Seemed fitting to revisit…

August 14, 2003 was a seasonably warm Thursday, and coincidentally, the conclusion of a fruitful downtown work experience. 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 Lafayette Street were also dark, most of us still dismissed it as typical Con Ed shenanigans. However, the sight of powerless traffic lights and the resultant automotive gridlock confirmed that a much larger issue was at stake. Only then was our doomsday instinct triggered – terrorist attack, get going! (After all, 9-11 was only two years prior). Not all the co-workers shared such potent paranoia, which resulted in the decision to pound a few drinks at Swift while the brew was still cold.

Later that evening, with transit at a standstill and already nursing a buzz, the decision was made to cross the bridge into Williamsburg and stay with a friend. 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, a couple yards ahead of us we witnessed a day laborer running to attack some random dude with his crowbar at the southeast corner of Forsyth and Delancey.

Crossing the Williamsburg bridge with fellow city brethren was most memorable. Hordes of New Yorkers were 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, and which we didn’t again experience until the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Looking back now, the Blackout of 2003 was one of both adventure and excitement. It was also a much-needed reset button for a town with backward priorities.

Apologies for the poor picture quality. These shots were taken with a shitty 2.0 MP Fujifilm camera, without optical zoom.

This gallery has been removed.

Recent Stories

Levain Bakery to Open First Downtown Location on Lafayette Street Next Week

In a first, Levain Bakery is headed downtown. News that we first reported in March 2019. Now, more than a year after breaking the news, the sweets shops confirms that next Wednesday (February 26) is the opening date at 340 Lafayette Street (at Bleecker Street). Teaser signage in the window had promised this debut as […]

Hoy Wong Restaurant Fades After 42 Years on Mott Street

A Chinatown stalwart is now retired. The Hoy Wong restaurant at 81 Mott Street closed down last weekend. A handwritten sign on the front door explains that the lease was up, and ownership elected to retire instead of renew. The eatery spent 42 years in the neighborhood and a popular pit-stop for locals and tourists. […]

Scarr’s Pizza is Planning a Second Location at a Midtown Food Hall

Out of nowhere, news that Scarr’s Pizza is expanding to include a second city location this spring. Eater had the scoop yesterday, citing the website of the architecture firm Le Whit, which lists the pizzeria as client. The new location is similarly small – 250 square-feet, but “reiterating the restaurant’s current branding” with its “retro […]

Talkin’ ’bout My Generation: Memories of Bill Graham and the Fillmore East

While working on our story about the new “Bill Graham and The Rock & Roll Revolution” exhibit at the New-York Historical Society, this reporter started collecting personal stories and memories of Graham’s legendary music venue, the Fillmore East. Located on Second Avenue and East 6th Street, the building began life in 1926 as The Commodore, […]

Chatham Square Library Closed for ‘Building Repairs’ Until Next Month

The Chatham Square Library is currently down for maintenance. The so-called “building repairs and improvements” are scheduled to last through February 29, with the library itself to reopen the following Monday (March 2). Until then, borrowers can return books and periodicals to the Seward Park branch just down East Broadway. The Chatham Square branch of […]