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The PBS show Blackout, reliving the 1977 blackout and its aftermath, airs on Tuesday night. And it turns out West Side Rag inadvertently played a role in the production. One part of the film will feature Alan Rubin, who owned appliance store RCI on 98th and Broadway. That store was looted during the blackout, and Alan’s daughter Jen Rubin wrote about what happened in an incredible story in West Side Rag.

Jen tells us someone from the show saw the story in the Rag and decided to add it to the documentary. If you watch, look out for the scenes featuring the neighborhood. Check out a clip below, and read Jen’s story here. (Jen is working on a book about the store and the neighborhood and we’ll let everyone know when it’s available.)

RCI closed last year after 80 years.

HISTORY, NEWS | 16 comments | permalink
    1. Nelson says:

      Amazing. Thanks you, WSR, for your continued excellent coverage of our neighborhood. I wish I’d discovered this site sooner!

    2. dannyboy says:

      I was sorry that RCI closed. I now buy appliances at the big box stores, and it sucks.

    3. jezbel says:

      I remember that blackout like it was yesterday. I was in my 20’s living on 91st St and CPW. It struck at dusk on a hot July evening. It wasn’t a frightening event where I was, so much as an inconvenience. No air-conditioning on a stifling muggy night. The City went kind of quiet with no traffic lights working just people to help direct traffic. No street lights, just the light from flashlights. Neighbors banding together to help out. We all listened on boom boxes to what few radio stations were still able to broadcast. And then, late at night gunshots coming from Broadway. The sound of glass smashing in the distance. In the morning when I walked west to Broadway I could see the smashed out windows of all the shops that had been looted in the night. Albee Baby, a men’s clothing store, an appliance store. Most of them rebuilt. It was a sad day for New York.

    4. Mark says:

      A lot of looting above 96th street, I have photos of a jewelry store on 106th and Broadway all burned out and looted next to the old bank on the corner

    5. kitcat says:

      The title of the movie is “racist” (LOL) – at first, I actually thought BLACKOUT was referring who did the looting…ut then again PBS wouldn’t be that ‘racist’

    6. senyc says:

      I remember that night so well. Was upstairs in the New Yorker bookstore on Bwy when the blackout hit. Walked home to 94th/Columbus and up 22 flights. The views over the dark City were incredible.

    7. bill says:

      I remember when they pulled the gate off of Sobel Bros. pawn shop on 89/90th st…still have a trumpet from that day

    8. MaryJo says:

      I love Alan Rubin and I was so sad when RCI closed…..he was so kind to me during my first couple of years in NY as a single mom…..he and his employees helped me afford a/c units by finding me scratch and dent specials with warranties….once I got on my feet, I bought appliances nowhere else but RCI…he survived so much over the years…glad his story is being told.

    9. AC says:

      Will never forget the Summer of 1977. Son of Sam Killer and the Blackout standout so vividly. I remember a mob of people trying to break Woolworth’s windows on 79 street & Broadway; a guy running down 80th street with a parking meter over his shoulder; and total mayhem. A sad day for not only Upper West Siders, but all of NYC.

    10. UWSider says:

      RCI, another great store that is so missed. The best was SAME DAY DELIVERY! RCI may be gone but certainly not forgotten. Thank you for all the years and remarkable service.

    11. ws says:

      What a contrast the ’77 blackout was with the blackout of ’03, where there was no crime or looting. I dare say we have come a long way. NYC has never been safer or better. Yes hand wringers, I realize life is still hard form many and some people have more than others but on the whole NYC is just so much better and we all seem to get along pretty well.

      • Mark says:

        There was a little looting, I remember the Radio Shack in 108th and Broadway having its windows smashed in ’03

    12. Scott says:

      It really is too bad cops didn’t bust some heads during that blackout. Their MIA performance is the ultimate stain on the city.

      • pauld24pct says:

        After a long night of chasing looters from store to store only to have them return, arrested 3 looting a drug store on 106 & Columbus, many arrested that night, and for weeks afterward with stolen property. Unfortunately as said by the man above with the stolen trumpet hell play you a tune as he apparently lacks a moral compass, whats yours is his.