Bombing of Wall Street 1920-Anarchist-Sacco and Vanzetti-NYCThe Bombing of Wall Street in 1920. Image from Library of Congress

While you probably maintain a black and white image of dirty young intellectuals huddled around a table in a dark room building a device for destruction, anarchy in 20th century New York developed as a social, political, and humanitarian movement in reaction to the ideologies of oppressive governments at the time. However, the movement quickly became violent, and its legacy today holds negative connotation. Its conspirators didn’t just gather in grimy tenements on the East Side of Manhattan. Members of anarchist groups met anywhere from the Upper East Side to East Williamsburg, targeting influential New Yorkers as important as John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan and left their mark on places from Wall Street to Union Square.

1. Union Square, 1908

Anarchist Bombing-Union Square-NYCImage from Library of Congress

In March of 1908, Selig Cohen (also known as Selig Silverstein), a Russian member of the Anarchist Federation of America, threw a bomb during a socialist meeting in Union Square. The bomb prematurely detonated, killing a bystander and mortally wounding the bomber. The bystander, Ignatz Hildebrand, is thought to have been involved in the plot as well. The man being searched in the photograph was the police’s number one suspect, Max Dolinger, right after the bomb was thrown.

union-square-anarchist-bombing-nyc-untappedImage from Library of Congress