8. The Wall Street Bombing

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

Long before the horrific incidents that occurred on 9/11, another bomb rocked the heart of the city–this time in the form of a horse-drawn wagon. On September 16, 1920 a wagon loaded with 500 pounds of small iron weights and dynamites exploded in front of 23 Wall Street. The corner building at the time was the headquarters of J.P Morgan & Co., the nation’s most powerful bank.

The explosion instantly killed thirty people–and one horse; another eight people died from sustained injuries; hundreds were injured either from the shrapnel or by the jagged glass that rained down from the building windows. In fact the blast was so powerful that according to a bystander, a trolley carrying passengers two blocks away was “thrown from the tracks from the shock”.

No group or individual claimed responsibility for the attack, leading many to insinuate the communists. However, in their haste to reopen the stock market the next day, city officials inadvertently destroyed invaluable evidence that could have been conducive to identifying the perpetrators. While the three-year-long investigation that followed was fruitless, a 1944 FBI revisit of the case concluded that Italian anarchists were responsible for the plot. However, even this has never been substantiated. To this day scars of the bombing can be found on the limestone on 23 Wall Street.