On the evening of July 13, 1977, lightning struck a substation in Buchanan, NY, triggering a series of events that resulted in most of the city experiencing a 2-day blackout.
While people’s experiences ranged from delightfully exciting (stores giving away ice cream beofre it melted) to the really, really scary (extensive looting in Crown Heights, the Bronx and Harlem), one thing is certain: If the city had had more decnetralized electricity in the form of battery-backed solar, the blackout would not have been nearly as far-reaching and frightening. Now that New York is well on its way to making the switch to renewables, hopefully blackouts like this are a thing of the past.
You can read more about the 1977 Blackout on Wikipedia here. Photo by Allan Tannenbaum.