The bombing happened at a time of fierce battles between capital and labor and as the the place that seemed to be the target was the J.P. Morgan Bank in Wall Street it seems that this atrocity was linked to other violent events of the time that were part of this conflict. But no villian was caught and even the supposition that Morgan’s Bank was the target was never proven.
At noon on September 16th 1920 a horse drawn wagon stopped on the opposite side of the street to Morgan’s bank. Afterwards no one could remember who was driving the wagon. Almost immediately though, 100 lbs of dynamite wrapped around 500 lbs of metal window sashes was set off by an automatic timer. When the explosion occurred the street was crowded with office workers on their lunch break.
The damage was terrible. 38 people were killed, 143 seriously injured and many hundreds taken to hospital as well. There was the equivalent of $23 millions pounds in today’s values in property damage and almost all the interior spaces of the Morgan Bank were destroyed.
The investigation was led by the predecessor to the FBI, the BOI. Investigation methods lacked the forensic exactitude of today and in the rush to get things back to normal much of the physical evidence was destroyed in the cleanup. It was assumed Morgan’s was the target and that anarchists or Galleanists as they were then called, or communists were to blame but no culprit was ever caught.
These days historians think anarchist Mario Budo was to blame and there is some supporting evidence from people who knew him was given over 30 years later. He was in NYC at the time of the explosion but left soon after for Italy and never returned.
Today there are still pockmarks in the marble wall of the J P Morgan bank, the only existing memorial to the terrible event. People passing by in Wall street probably wonder why such a prestigious building has such strange marks on one of it’s walls.