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1930s & Earlier / Wall Street Bombing - 1920
One of the least remembered terrorist attacks in American history occurred just past noon on Thursday, September 16, 1920 in the hub of America's financial center--New York City's Wall Street. An unattended horse-drawn wagon loaded with a bomb containing dynamite and 500 pounds of small iron weights was parked in front of 23 Wall Street. The corner building was then the headquarters of J.P. Morgan & Co., the nation's most powerful bank. At 12:01 p.m., the timer on the bomb reached zero and a terrific explosion rocked the street. The concussion from the blast was so severe that it derailed a trolley car two blocks away. Several hundred people were injured by flying shrapnel and broken glass falling from the surrounding buildings. There were 38 fatalities--most of whom were not major financial magnates, but average Wall Street employees: clerical staff and messengers on their lunch breaks. Anarchist literature was found nearby threatening violence unless unnamed political prisoners were released. No arrests were ever made in the case, but historians and crime buffs strongly believe the bombing was carried out by an anti-capitalist/anarchist named Mario Buda who fled to Italy shortly after the bombing and stayed there until his death in 1963. Buda apparently was motivated by the arrests of fellow anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti earlier that year for the April 15, 1920 robbery of a Massachusetts shoe factory's payroll in which a security guard was killed. The only two deadlier terrorists attacks on American soil in the 20th century were the Bath School bombing of 1927 and the massive explosion at the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. Despite the passage of nearly a century, deep shrapnel marks from the 1920 explosion are still visible on the limestone facade of 23 Wall Street.