Lessons From the 2003 Northeast Blackout

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The sun sets over the Manhattan skyline August 14, 2003 during a major power outage affecting a large part of the north eastern United States and Canada. (Robert Giroux/Getty)

This week our friends at the Retro Report documentary team look back to a disruption in infrastructure that showed just how vulnerable Americans can be when the lights go off. In 2003, a great blackout left nearly 50 million Americans from Ohio to New York without electricity.

This week, more than 200 public and private large power companies are staging a mock-blackout. They won’t turn any lights out,  but they will rehearse how they would respond in the event of another major outage.

 Jonathan Gruber, Retro Report Director, takes a look back at the lessons of 2003's outage.


Jonathan Gruber

Produced by:

Mythili Rao


T.J. Raphael

Comments [2]

catherine summers from northfield ohio

I live between cleveland and akron, ohio and our small suburb had electricity throughout the whole blackout. Something to do with the way the grid is wired. The only problem we had was water--we receive our water from Cleveland and they didn't have any backup generators to pump the water uphill.

Nov. 12 2013 09:41 AM
Mike from Jersey City from NJ

My sister, who worked for Con Ed at the time, and had access to their control room, said the boards were overwhelmed by a computer virus.

No reason for her to make this up. How come that's not part of this report?

Nov. 12 2013 09:33 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.