Remembering The Wall Street Bombing, 100 Years Later

Sean Adams
September 16, 2020 - 2:15 pm
Wall Street bombing markings

Steve Scott/WCBS 880


NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The worst terror attack in New York City history, up until Sept. 11, 2001, happened 100 years ago Wednesday. 

On Thursday, Sept. 16, 1920, a massive explosion rocked Lower Manhattan at the corner of Wall and Broad streets outside the J.P. Morgan & Company bank headquarters as people in the Financial District were heading out for lunch.

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"It shattered windows as far north as City Hall, it could be felt all the way down in Battery Park and when the moment of the explosion had cleared about 40 people were either dead or dying on Wall Street," said Yale University history professor Beverly Gage, who wrote the book "The Day Wall Street Exploded: A Story of America in Its First Age of Terror."

The blast also injured hundreds of people. 

Investigators determined that it was a horse-drawn cart packed with dynamite and cast iron weights that had exploded.

The bombing, to this day, remains unsolved and the culprit is unknown.

"It went down as, officially, an unsolved crime. There were lots of arrests but there was never anyone put on trial for this event," Gage told WCBS 880's Sean Adams.

Future FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover worked the case and investigators suspected anarchists or anti-capitalists targeted the Morgan Bank building.

"The most likely person who actually did it was indeed an anarchist, an Italian-born anarchist named Mario Buda who was a friend of (Nicola) Sacco and (Bartolomeo) Vanzetti, the famous anarchists who themselves had just been arrested a few months earlier," Gage said.

The building located at 23 Wall St. still bears scars of the attack to this day.

"If you look at the wall that is along Wall Street you can still see pretty big chunks taken out of the stone there, that were left there quite deliberately," Gage said. "Mostly Wall Street wanted it to go away, but these pock marks were left there and 100 years later we can still see them and touch them and know what they meant... they were left there really as a kind of memorial to the victims."

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