23 Wall Street, the Morgan Guaranty Company Building and J.P. Morgan Bank headquarters, circa 1914. Photo via Library of Congress.

As the bells of Trinity Church tolled noon, on September 16, 1920, no one noticed the horse drawn wagon pull up beside 23 Wall Street. However, that would change instantaneously. Within seconds, a massive explosion ripped through the building which served as the headquarters of J. P. Morgan’s bank. Windowpanes were shattered within a ten block radius. The explosion was caused by a bomb on that previously innocuous  wagon. It killed between 36 and 38 people and caused upwards of two million dollars in damage. Investigators were never able to determine who was responsible for the bombing. However, it is believed that anarchists were behind the attack.

Photo by New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection via Library of Congress

23 Wall Street, which was the site of the bombing was constructed in 1914 was the J. P. Morgan & Company bank headquarters. When it was completed the  Real Estate Record and Guide claimed that it was ”a rival to the Parthenon.”  The interior consisted of a large pentagon shaped room with 30 feet high  ceilings and  domed skylight that was 35 feet wide. The vault was constructed of  four inch nickel steel walls and contained a 50 ton door with ‘anti-oxyacetylene cutter burner proof sections.

Damage on the building that can still be seen today

Damage on the building that can still be seen today

Overall, the building has led a very uneventful existence. In 1957, the building was connected to neighboring 15 Broad Street.  The exterior of the building was designated a New York City landmark in 1965. Recently there have been proposals to transform the building into a retail space, possibly even the Financial District‘s outpost of the Apple Store. It has been rebranded The Corner. The Corner will allow visitors to “[s]tep into the center of refined Old New York. ” Additionally, the space provides “[a]n underground speakeasy, accessed through a golden door that thousands of uninitiated pass by every day.” It will be interesting to see whether the building’s next tenant can live about to the building’s mythic past.

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