The Great Northeast Blackout of 1965 left millions of consumers in New England and the Canadian province of Ontario without electricity for as long as 13 hours.
Photograph by Camerafiend, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Download this file

  • On November 9, 1965, more than 30 million people in the United States and Canada were plunged into darkness in one of the biggest electrical power failures in history.
    The Great Northeast Blackout was caused by a misconfigured power line at a hydroelectric power station at Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Neighboring power lines were overloaded and quickly shut down. The U.S. and Canada share the same power grid, so the blackout impacted people and businesses throughout the U.S. states of New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and New Jersey, as well as Ontario.
    The Great Northeast Blackout was a costly inconvenience. The blackout began just after 5 p.m.—the start of evening “rush hour,” when people generally leave work. More than 800,000 people were stuck in New York City’s subway system and had to walk out. Airplanes circled the region, unable to secure landings at an airport. Police and national guard units were called in to prevent looting. (There were actually very few incidents of theft.) The New York Times, the largest newspaper in the country, was forced to print a small, 10-page paper at a New Jersey facility unaffected by the blackout—but was the only New York newspaper to appear the next morning.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    business Noun

    sale of goods and services, or a place where such sales take place.

    costly Adjective

    expensive or having a lot of value.

    electrical energy Noun

    energy made available by a flow of electrical charge, through a conductor. Electrical energy is measured in Joules.

    facility Noun

    a building or room that serves a specific function.

    hydroelectric power Noun

    usable energy generated by moving water converted to electricity.

    impact Verb

    to influence or have an effect on something.

    incident Noun

    event or happening.

    inconvenience Verb

    to disturb or bother.

    loot Verb

    to steal or take something illegally.

    misconfigure Verb

    to design or adapt something incorrectly.

    National Guard Noun

    military force controlled by a U.S. state but funded by the federal government and called up as part of the Army during national emergencies.

    plunge Verb

    to enter suddenly, especially into water.

    power grid Noun

    network of cables or other devices through which electricity is delivered to consumers. Also called an electrical grid.

    power line Noun

    cable or cord used to transfer electricity from a power plant to a population center. Also called a transmission line.

    region Noun

    any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.

    Encyclopedic Entry: region
    rush hour Noun

    time of the day when many people are in transit.

    subway Noun

    underground railway; a popular form of public transportation in large urban areas.