Sunday, August 18, 2019

Wall Street Bombing of 1920

By Nancy J. Farrier

Photo by JSquish
Wikimedia Commons
It was a beautiful fall day in September 1920. The lunch rush had started and people were hurrying on Wall Street past the J. P. Morgan building. Almost no one paid attention to the man who guided his horse and cart to the side of the street next to the U.S. Assay office, across from the J. P. Morgan building, climbed down and walked away. Within minutes the cart exploded in what would be the worst bombing in the United Stated until the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

Because the streets were crowded, there was carnage everywhere. The one
Photo from Wikimedia Commons
hundred pounds of dynamite, overlaid with metal fragments created an explosion that derailed a street car a block away. The blast took the lives of 38 people, while more than 300 were injured. People inside buildings were lifted off the floor and tossed to the ground, including Joseph P. Kennedy, future father of President John F. Kennedy. 

Wikimedia Commons
People near the wagon were devoured in a column of fire. One man described looking out his window to see a column of smoke rise in the air, people dropping to the ground, some with their clothing on fire. Body parts of the horse were found blocks away from the actual blast site. The site was a scene of horror and destruction like they had never seen before.

Who was this perpetrator? Who was responsible for this act of terror? That is still an unanswered question. There have been many theories, but to this day no one has claimed responsibility and there is little evidence to look at.

J.P. Morgan, Pach Bros.
Wikimedia Commons
Unlike the CSI teams of today, New York in that day was focused on cleaning up the debris and destruction. By the following day, they had the roads passable and businesses were open again. At the scene, there was a short service with music and speeches. But, all the evidence had been hauled away in wagons instead of being collected for clues to the identity of the terrorist.

One theory is that someone wanted to kill J.P. Morgan, whom many thought to be too powerful. At the time of the explosion, Morgan was overseas but his son, Junius, was injured and Morgan’s clerk was killed by a piece of debris that came through a window.

Luigi Galleani
Wikimedia Commons
The FBI was young at this time. They investigated the bombing and suspected Italian anarchist, Luigi Galleani’s followers of the crime. Galleani had been deported in 1919 after eight bombings. Because of the quick clean up and the unknown identity of the man driving the wagon, they couldn’t prove anything. 

Despite the severity of the terrorist attack, which cost $2 million in damages and many deaths, the case has never been solved. The Wall Street Bombing 1920 is still listed on the FBI website on their Famous Cases and Criminals page. No one knows for sure why the bombing happened or what the terrorist hoped to gain. The pock marks in the walls can still be seen today—a testament to this horror from years ago.

Pock Marks, NortonJuster7722
Wikimedia Commons
When we have a new terrorist threat to the United States, I don’t realize this isn’t only a current issue. The Wall Street Bombing was new to me. How about you? Have you heard of this act of terrorism?








Nancy J Farrier is an award-winning author who lives in Southern Arizona in the Sonoran Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats, and spend time with her family. Nancy is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Literary Agency. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website: nancyjfarrier.com.

8 comments:

  1. I’ve never heard of this terrorist attack before. Great article! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you, Irene. I appreciate you stopping by.

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  2. I never heard of this before. When you consider that the man left his horse there, it shows his state of mind. He didn't care who--or what--he hurt. Too bad they never caught the guy.

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    1. I know, Vickie. It was very hard to read about the horse. Made me both sad and mad.

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  3. I have never heard of this before. What interesting and sad information. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Lori, it is both sad and interesting. Thank you for commenting.

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  4. Wow! Hadn't heard of this. Thanks for posting this; helps us remember that the nature of man has always had its' basest levels displayed.

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    1. Connie, It is a very sad reminder. Thank you for commenting.

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