A Great Big City

January 24 in History: Fraunces Tavern Bombing Kills Four

Fraunces Tavern 11
Fraunces Tavern 11 via KyjL on Flickr

A historic tavern was the site of a politically-motivated bombing on January 24, 1975.

Fraunces Tavern has been operating since 1762 at Pearl and Broad, and a bombing 213 years after its opening wasn't going to take it down.

The January 24th bombing of the tavern killed four and injured more than 50. In a letter found in a phonebooth nearby, terrorist group FALN would claim responsibility. The FALN bombed locations across New York City advocating for Puerto Rico independence and the release of prisoners, but the Fraunces Tavern bombing was the most deadly. Other planted bombs had been detected early enough to evacuate buildings or only caused injuries after exploding. In the letter claiming responsibilty, the FALN say the tavern bombing was in retaliation for what they believed was a CIA bombing directed at their members.

An attachΓ© case carrying ten pounds of dynamite exploded inside the hallway entrance of Fraunces Tavern at 1:29pm, blasting debris onto the Pearl Street sidewalk. Three were killed instantly, with one man dying later from his injuries at the hospital. No one was ever convicted in the bombing. Read a description of the scene that day from the New York Times.

In 1999, President Bill Clinton commuted the sentences of 16 FALN members as they had not been convicted of killing, but only of related charges, and had already served sentences appropriate for those charges. In 2017, one of those released prisoners was to be honored at the Puerto Rican Day parade, creating a thorny political situation for Mayor de Blasio and causing corporations to pull their sponsorship of the parade.

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