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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Bombing of Fraunces Tavern -- January 24, 1975

Thirty-five years ago this week, on January 24, 1975, a bomb blast ripped through the Fraunces Tavern annex, killing four people and injuring more than 50 others.

The bomb exploded at 1:25 p.m. -- just in the middle of the lunch rush -- destroying the entryway, windows, and interior staircase of the tavern's 19th-century annex at 101 Broad Street (the building to the right in the photo above). While diners at the tavern's main restaurant were shielded from the blast by the building's thick walls, patrons upstairs at the Anglers' Club of New York City were not so lucky.

That afternoon, police received a tip that the bomb had been the work of the F.A.L.N. (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional), a Puerto Rican nationalist group. Formed in the late 1960s, the F.A.L.N. had already claimed responsibility for two smaller operations, a series of bombs that had gone off in October 1969 (causing no injuries), and one in Harlem about a month before the Fraunces Tavern bombing that had injured a police officer, ultimately causing him to lose his eye.

The F.A.L.N. directed the police to a phone booth in the Financial District where they found a note explaining that the Fraunces Tavern bomb was a retaliation for "the CIA ordered bomb that murdered Angel Luis Chavonnier and Eddie Ramos, two innocent young workers who supoorted [sic] Puerto Rican independence" as well as the "maiming of ten innocent a Mayaguez, Puerto Rico dining place on Saturday the eleventh of January, 1975."

Until its dissolution in the early 1980s, the F.A.L.N. would remain one of the most destructive terrorist groups in America. Throughout the rest of the decade numerous bombs were placed -- mainly in New York and Chicago -- causing millions of dollars in damages and a few injuries. The next fatality did not occur until August 1977, when Charles Steinberg was killed at the Mobil Building on 42nd Street. The F.A.L.N's last bombing in New York was took place on December 31, 1982, when bombs were exploded at Federal Plaza, One Police Plaza, near Foley Square, and in Cadman Plaza, Brooklyn. Three NYPD officers were badly injured in the blasts.

The F.A.L.N. dissolved in 1983; no one was ever arrested or prosecuted for the Fraunces Tavern attack and no plaque or other commemoration adorns the building to memorialize the loss of life that day.

* * *

Read more about Fraunces Tavern and its role in the American Revolution in
Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York City

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Scott said...

FYI, Bill Clinton pardoned the FALN that we did have behind bars.

Unknown said...

Information I wish I didn't have. My grandmother,Anne Elizabeth Hobby, was one of the survivors of this terrorist act. I wasn't as disappointed in Bill Clinton when the world found out he was unfaithful to his wife as I am to know that he freed some of the men responsible for the attempted murder of my hero.

Unknown said...

Eric Holder was also a huge factor in this terroist release! This came up during his confirmation hearings but he smoozed his way right out of it.

denver dance clubs said...

when New York was the national capital, the tavern was used for offices of the Treasury and War Departments by the Federal Government. The tavern eventually became run-down and was saved from demolition by the Sons of Liberty, who turned it partly into a museum. A tavern still occupies the ground floor.

Anonymous said...

The walls of the tavern did not shield its dining guests as my husband was at a table near the exit door and 3 of the 4 killed were sitting at the table with him. The 4th person who died was upstairs in the Angler's club.

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