On the evening of July 13, 1977, New York City went dark. This had happened before. The city had suffered a blackout in 1965 as part of a regional outage affecting the entire northeast, and it was relatively free of major incidents. The 1977 blackout, however, was the exact opposite, and when the smoke cleared, a congressional investigation concluded that over $300 million worth of damages had been incurred.
The 1977 blackout, which affected only New York City, was marred by pervasive arson and looting. When power was restored on July 14, much of this activity made the evening news, and the sight of wild-eyed young men emerging from shattered storefronts with new television sets was a common one. All told, over 1,600 stores were damaged, over 1,000 fires were reported and 3,776 people were arrested, the largest mass arrest in city history.