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US Assay Office in New York City Rocked by Explosion!

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US Assay Office in New York City Rocked by Explosion!


Those could have been the headlines in the New York Times almost 89 years ago when the United States suffered it’s first act of terrorism, which today, still remains a mystery.





On Sept. 16, 1920, the flood of Wall Street lunch-goers did not even notice a nondescript man on a red horse-drawn cart outside the U.S. Assay Office. After the man quickly disappeared into the crowd, the cart suddenly exploded, killing more than 40 people and injuring near 400 as metal fragments rained from the sky. Both the horse and wagon were entirely destroyed in the noon time blast



Speculations of conspiracy and terrorism abounded, but crews cleaned the damage overnight (not realizing they were destroying crucial evidence), leaving almost no clues behind.


The best tip came prior to the explosion. A letter carrier found four crudely spelled and printed flyers in the area from a group demanding the release of political prisoners. The group, called the "American Anarchist Fighters," resembled the Italian Anarchists that used similar flyers in two prior bombing campaigns.


The FBI originally suspected followers of Italian Anarchist Luigi Galleani, but the case couldn't be proved and promising trails became dead ends.


The Wall Street Explosion occurred in New York City at one minute before noon on 16 September 1920, across from the headquarters of the J. P. Morgan Company on Wall Street, near the corner of Broad Street. The junction was the financial epicenter of the United States–the J. P. Morgan Company, the N.Y. Stock Exchange, the U.S. Assay Office, the Sub-Treasury Building all surrounded the site. It was a system bitterly hated by the radicals and known anarchists.


Although persons were killed or injured in the street, no one inside the surrounding buildings were harmed. Ironically, the bomb that rocked the entire lower end of Manhattan claimed not the reviled financial giants but rather the ‘little people’: the clerk, the stenographer, delivery boys. Wall Street was in utter shambles. A huge crater was blown into the street.






Thousands of people lined up the streets to see the blood-soaked avenue. The N.Y Daily News photographer George Schmidt was among the first to arrive and he took the above photo.


Note: This Assay office was closed in 1982

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