At 5:28 PM on November 9th, 1965, New York City began experiencing signs of what was soon to be clear was a major emergency electrical blackout. The night the lights went out in New York is now a fond memory for those of us alive who are old enough to remember it. I hasten to add that I am not one of them, being one year and four months old at the time. But I remember hearing the story of how my father had to walk down twenty-some fights of stairs from his office at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and then up twelve flights of stairs to our apartment at 1 Central Park West, with a cold and semi-terrifying twenty-block walk through a darkened New York City sandwiched in between.

The very moment that the "blackout of '65' began can now be experienced live, as it happened, by listening to the below clip. Dan Ingram, popular WABC disc jockey, was on the air spinning records (and supplying his usual frenetic commentary) when the grid began to shut down, causing the equipment to falter in a most amusing way; rather than simply shutting off, records and taped commericals began to gradually slooow waaayyy doooowwwwnnn. Chagrined at what he assumed was a simple and embarrassing case of the studio's equipment failing, Ingram began joking nervously about the songs being played in "the key of R" and the WABC equipment being from "signal corps 1902". And then the lights went out and that was that.

Here's the five minutes in which it happened, followed by a few minutes of the next day's broadcast when the lights had come back on. A simply marvelous, unbelievable bit of New York history captured on audio.

 Subscribe in a reader