Summer Of 1977 In New York City

Published June 13, 2016
Updated November 18, 2019

From the blackout to the .44 caliber killer, these photos of New York City in the summer of 1977 reveal a city on the brink of collapse.

On the evening of July 13, 1977, two lightning strikes just north of New York City led to a massive blackout that plunged the city into darkness.

The lights went out, elevators stalled, and subways ground to a halt. Looting and arson broke out, over a thousand fires were reported, and more than 1,600 stores were damaged or ransacked. The Mets-Cubs game at Shea Stadium ended in the bottom of the sixth inning. The light-filled city became a black pit.

Elsewhere in New York’s summer of 1977, a sweltering heatwave, financial downturn, rising poverty and inequality levels, paranoia about the Son of Sam murders, and the shining lights of Studio 54 took hold of the city.

Likewise, as fires burned down much of the Bronx, hip hop began to rise from the ashes. In fact, the looting of music stores during the blackout enabled people who couldn’t afford turntables and mixers to gather the equipment they needed to become DJs.

Check out some compelling photos from that uneasy summer in New York City:

Avenue C
New York 1977
Woman Sitting Street Summer
Forth Of July
Summer Of 1977 In New York City
View Gallery

Next, taking some more stunning trips back in time to New York in the summer of 1969, then to the desolate 1970s, and finally to the drug-addled 1980s.

All That's Interesting
All That's Interesting is a Brooklyn-based digital publisher that seeks out the stories to illuminate the past, present, and future.