New Bedford and Fall River Impacted By Great Blackout of ’65
Over 30 million people and 80,000 square miles were without electricity for up to 13 hours during the "Great Northeastern Blackout" on November 9, 1965. That included New Bedford, Fall River, Boston and Providence, but not Taunton.
At the time, it was considered the largest blackout ever.
Parts of several Northeastern states – Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Jew Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont – and Ontario, Canada were affected by the blackout.
Some areas within the affected region did not lose power during the blackout. Hartford, Connecticut; Braintree, Hudson, Holyoke and Taunton, Massachusetts; and Fairport, Greenport and Walden, New York had their own power plants which operators disconnected from the grid and provided electricity to their residents.
Power was first lost to the Niagara-Canada border at 5:17 pm – rush hour for many. The outage quickly spread to New York. While Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and a portion of Brooklynn were impacted by the outage, some neighborhoods didn't lose power.
Human error was to blame for the massive power outage. A misprogrammed relay was tripped during heavy power usage, resulting in a system shutdown.
The New England Historical Society says, "Rush hour traffic snarled, and 800,000 people got stuck on subways in New York City." The Society says, "Railroads halted and airplanes circled darkened airports before finding emergency runways."
Some planes "landed at the Naval base at Quonset (Rhode Island), which had switched to an emergency generator."
While most people remained calm during the blackout looting was reported in Springfield, Massachusetts, and a three-hour riot ensued at what was then Walpole State Prison.
There were no serious injuries noted.