A little over 100 years ago on an early fall day, one of the biggest unsolved terrorist attacks occurred in New York City, New York, at the corner of Wall and Broad Street in the heart of the Financial District. The event, aptly named the “Wall Street Bombing,” transpired on September 16, 1920.
An unassuming coachman parked his carriage, which was filled with an unidentified payload, diagonally across from the JPMorgan building in front of the United States Assay Office. After quickly abandoning his carriage and horse, the driver vanished into a sea of pedestrians, most of whom were wearing herringbone top hats and hand tailored three-piece suits. Minutes later, at the height of lunch hour in Lower Manhattan, a horrific explosion occurred that left 30 dead and injured more than 300. The mysterious coachman would never be seen again.
In a typical display of New York City grit and heroism, the locals came together. City workers and the police and fire departments quickly removed the dead, boarded up windows and doors, and resumed business the very next day. But unfortunately, the quick cleanup came at a price: Key pieces of evidence were simply lost. With little to go on, the police were left with conspiracy theories and speculations.
When a mail worker found four flyers near the bombing, the police believed they now had a small but promising lead. The flyers, authored by a group called the “American Anarchist Fighters,” demanded the release of political prisoners. Investigators linked the flyers to similar bombings that had occurred a year earlier by a group that called itself the “Italian Anarchists.” However, that one lead, which at first appeared so promising, was just that, a lead that led nowhere.
Over the next decade, the U.S. Secret Service tried to link the bombing to Italian anarchist Luigi Galleani. However, the Secret Service was unsuccessful due to lack of evidence. Moreover, Galleani fled the country. With few reservations, all the multiple law enforcement agencies agreed that the attack had been led by the Italian Anarchists. In the end, the Wall Street Bombing became one of our nation’s earliest terrorist attacks, and to this day, it remains unsolved.