Blackout History Project




Sparrow, Jim
Summers, John
Vuong, TuVinh
Cheng, John

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Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media


The Blackout History Project reconstructed two dramatic social responses to large-scale technological failure, specifically blackouts that encompassed the New York metropolitan region. In early November of 1965, at the height of the cold war, 30 million people living in the most densely populated region of the United States experienced a cascading power failure which blacked out almost the entire Northeast in less than fifteen minutes. Rising to the occasion, New Yorkers assisted each other in a spirit of cooperation and community uncharacteristic of ordinary city life. Twelve years later, in the summer of 1977, the New York metropolitan region experienced another massive power outage, but this time the popular response was quite different. Devastating riots and looting engulfed the poorer sections of the city, inflicting enormous economic damage at a time when New York City was already on its knees. The website includes a timeline of events, an archive of personal stories that were partially collected using a the website interface, and contextualizing essays. Funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation as part of the Science and Technology in the Making (STIM) project. It was hosted for a year by the Scholarly Technology Group at Brown University before moving to George Mason University and continued hosting by the Center for History and New Media at


The WARC file must be opened using a program like The ZIP contains a static version of the website.


Digital history, oral history