The Year Hundreds of Bombs Went Off in New York City

The Chelsea bombing last week made headlines across the country, but fortunately no one was killed. Bombings are big news today, but New York City has always had them. Some in the past were never even heard of outside the city. In fact, there was an 18-month period in 1969-’70 in which 370 bombs went off in the city! New York bombings have been carried out by all kinds of groups and individuals for as many different reasons: targeted political statements, general terrorism, revenge, or just insanity.

…in November 1940, the city had its first encounter with a bomber who would haunt them for years: George Metesky, a disgruntled former ConEd employee who left a pipe bomb at a company building, along with a note: "CON EDISON CROOKS – THIS IS FOR YOU."

A similar bomb appeared several months later, before Metesky decided to pause because of World War II.

"I WILL MAKE NO MORE BOMB UNITS FOR THE DURATION OF THE WAR," Metesky wrote police. "MY PATRIOTIC FEELINGS HAVE MADE ME DECIDE THIS."

True to his word, Metesky didn't resume bombing until 1951, when he captivated the media with a string of bombings over several years, many at city landmarks like Grand Central Terminal, the New York Public Library, and Radio City Music Hall, some 33 in total which never killed anyone but, for a time, set the city on edge.

Metesky was eventually captured and committed to a mental institution. His is only one of the many stories told in a rundown of historical New York bombings at Atlas Obscura.   


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