Yesterday's attack in Boston has left me sad and confused; I keep longing for a suspect to be caught, so I can hear about a motive, as though if I hear some lunatic's justification for mass violence it'll make sense
? So I decided instead to distract myself with investigations into local history. Two small bombs exploded in Boston yesterday, but did you know that small bombs have been exploding in New York City for more than 100 years?
The 1919 Bombing of Judge Nott's Home
A bomb was placed on the stoop Judge Charles Nott's home on E. 61st Street at almost 1am when it exploded prematurely. "A man and a woman were blown to pieces," read the Times lede
, including a night watchman, and the front of the first and second stories were torn out. ("Scarcely a window in the block between Lexington and Third Avenues escaped the force of the concussion.") Nott was away in Connecticut; his wife was asleep on the fourth floor and survived. The bomb was one of eight set off around the country that night by Galleanists, anarchists; Nott was one of several judges targeted for sentencing anarchists to prison.
The Wall Street Bombing of 1920
Around noon on September 16, a horse-drawn wagon pulled up to the JP Morgan headquarters on Wall Street; in the back were 100 pounds of dynamite, plus 500 pounds of shrapnel. Thirty eight people were killed and 143 wounded in the ensuing blast. Investigators never conclusively solved the case, but it's likely it was carried out by more Galleanists, possibly upset over the arrests of Sacco and Vanzetti.
George Metesky, The Mad Bomber
Though he left two duds in the 40s, Metesky's campaign of terror
really began in earnest in 1951, when he set off a bomb in Grand Central Station that injured no one. He would set many more bombs—at transit stations, theaters, bars, subway stations and other places—often first calling in warnings, until his capture in 1957. He injured many people, including several at a capacity screening of White Christmas
at Radio City: the blast was muffled by upholstery; the wounded were treated, viewers in the surrounding area moved to the back, and the movie was allowed to finish!
Marine Midland Building Bombing
In August 1969, the equivalent of 24 sticks of dynamite exploded in a financial district building, injuring two of the 150 late-shift workers. The attack was the first of eight that year that "rocked major institutions in New York City," the Times reported
. Marine Midland and several other bombings were connected to a proto-Weather Underground group led by Samuel Melville, who was captured in 1969. This was the height of NYC bombings. "One study found that from January 1969 to October 1970, there were about 370 bombings — most of them minor — in New York, an average of more than one every other day," the Times reported
The Firebombing of Justice John Murtagh's Home
Members of the Weather Underground were likely responsible for the Molotov cocktails tossed at Judge John Murtagh's Inwood home in February 1970, which caused minor property damage. Murtagh presided over a trial of several Black Panther Party members accused of plotting bombings. The same night
of the firebombing, a gasoline bomb was thrown at a cop car in the West Village, and two recruiting stations near Brooklyn College were scorched by similar means. [photo
The Greenwich Village Townhouse Explosion
The following month, members of the Weather Underground were building a bomb that accidentally detonated in an 11th Street safe house; four of them were killed. Dustin Hoffman lived next door but was unharmed.
The Bombing of NYPD Headquarters
- Weather Underground wanted poster
Then in June of that year, the Weather Underground put 15 sticks of dynamite
in a locker in a men's room in police headquarters on Centre Street and gave two warnings to GTFO. Eight people were injured when the bomb detonated on the second floor.
The Fraunces Tavern Bombing
In 1975, the Puerto Rican nationalist group FALN set off a bomb
—10 pounds of dynamite in an attache left in an entranceway—at the Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan, killing four Wall Streeters and business people. [photo
The LaGuardia Airport Bombing
Just after Christmas in 1975, a bomb exploded
at baggage claim in LaGuardia Airport, killing 11 people and injuring 74 more. No one claimed responsibility, though the FALN and others were immediate suspects, and the case was never solved.
The Mobil Building Bombing
- Aftermath of an FALN bombing, not necessarily this one
The FALN set off bombs
, hidden in pocketbooks, in two office buildings two years after the Fraunces attack—at the Mobil building on 42nd Street, and DoD offices on 43rd—killing one person and injuring eight more. All told, the FALN was responsible for dozens of bombings in the 70s. [photo
The World Trade Center Bombing
In 1993, two men drove a yellow Ryder van into a public parking garage below the World Trade Center; one lit a 20-foot fuse, and they fled. The blast opened a 100-foot hole through four levels of concrete and sent smoke as high as the 93rd floor. Six people were killed and more than 1,000 injured.
The Times Square and Consulate Bombings
In 2008, a man on a bicycle rode up to the recruitment station in Times Square, placed a small bomb, and biked away. No one was injured, but the blast shattered the door and window of the center. The bomber has never been caught. Some investigators think the incident may be related to two other earlier incidents: one in 2005, in which a man on a bicycle threw a grenade at the British consulate, and another at the Mexican consulate in 2007. [photo
The Upper East Side Starbucks Bombing
On Memorial Day 2009, a 17-year-old Chelsea resident set off a water bottle full of explosive powder in a Starbucks on E. 92nd Street. The windows were shattered, but no one was injured. The teen was sentenced
to 3.5 years in prison. Many believe he was emulating Brad Pitt's character in Fight Club
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