41: Other Early September Terror Attacks Against the City


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  • A quick note on what is undoubtedly the top story of this week: The September 11th attacks. It's a uniquely difficult subject to cover, and one that has a unique interpretation within the city, whether you witnessed it first-hand or have come to understand it by living in the city and walking the same streets. I won't be playing excerpts from eyewitness video of people's final moments. I won't be reinterpreting the attack as a patriotic celebration. I will ask that you look around you and treat your fellow New Yorkers with kindness and compassion to honor those we lost, who were also regular, everyday New Yorkers, walking these same streets. Kindness is stronger than hate. — 18 years ago: The September 11th attacks destroy three buildings in the World Trade Center complex, killing 2,606 people in and around the buildings and 147 aboard the two planes ☮️.

  • Also 18 years ago, just one week after the September 11th attacks, A benefit concert and telethon is simulcast across 35 major television channels and raises over $200 million for the September 11th Fund — 'America: A Tribute to Heroes' featured musical performances from New York, London, and Los Angeles, and a variety of celebrities both hosting the event and answering calls. The money raised went toward cash assistance, counseling, and other services for individuals and businesses impacted by the September 11th attacks, and the Fund would distribute $528 million by 2004. Although 'Tribute to Heroes' was the first fundraiser held, by October 2001, the 'Concert for New York City' would be held at Madison Square Garden with another all-star line-up and raise $35 million for first responders, and on October 21st 'United We Stand: What More Can I Give' concert was headlined by Michael Jackson from Washington D.C. that unfortunately was haunted by technical problems and scheduling issues with performers.

  • Recently I mentioned that 4 years ago, the MTA was facing a string of assaults on workers, and this week the same news appears again. The Transit Workers Union Local 100 reports that assaults on bus and subway workers are up 39% year-over-year, with 85 workers suffering various attacks in the first eight months of 2019. While the MTA and the state have been increasing the law enforcement presence in the subways, transit union president Tony Utano accused the MTA of concealing the increasing assault numbers and not making the statistics public. Earlier this year, the union had also called for greater police enforcement in the subway due to incidents where MTA workers were spit upon. This news of an increase in assaults comes as the transit union is in contract negotiations with the MTA, and workers have been without a contract since May 2019. The MTA is simultaneously trying to address increases in the homeless population within the subway system and a push from Governor Cuomo and MTA head Andy Byford to prosecute fare evasion.

  • This week brought the final sentencing of the student who stabbed two classmates at a Bronx school in 2017. Abel Cedeno was 18 years old at the time and stabbed two younger students with a spring-loaded knife he had purchased from Amazon. One victim survived by was in a coma for several days and of the victims was killed, making the attack the first killing inside a city school in over 20 years. This week, Cedeno received a 14 year prison sentence for manslaughter, 8 years for assault, and 90 days for criminal possession of a weapon, all of which will be served simultaneously. Although the attack was initially explained as an on-going bullying incident, the court documents described the incident that precipitated the attack as a typical school interaction, where one of the victims threw something that hit Cedeno, then claimed that he didn't intend to hit him, but Cedeno challenged the victim to a fight and drew a knife. Further complicating the theory of on-going bullying was testimony given during the trial that the two victims had not had much prior interaction with Cedeno. In an interview with ABC7, Cedeno claimed that he took the knife to school because he felt threatened and that when the attack occurred, he 'just snapped'. In a stunning detail, Cedeno's mother had contacted the school two and a half years before the attack to tell them that he had been taking a knife to school, but administrators failed to take proper action to log the event, instead simply searching his belongings one time and not notifying the school's principal of the mother's concerns.

  • Another terror attack also took place in the city 99 years ago on September 16, 1920 — A horse-drawn wagon bomb explodes outside 23 Wall Street, killing 38 and injuring hundreds — It was an unorthodox way of delivering a bomb, and no one knew the danger that was carried on a horse-drawn wagon as it was pulled along busy Wall Street. In the wagon was 100 pounds of dynamite surrounded by 500 pounds of sash weights, which are heavy cast-iron weights used to counter-balance windows that slide open. The dynamite exploded at noon and sent the heavy shrapnel flying into the lunchtime crowd outside the financial buildings along Wall Street. The attack is still unsolved, but historians believe it was carried out by an Italian anarchist group. The sheer cruelty of the bombing, which seemed to have no intended target and killed a random assortment of innocent people who were nearby, made it difficult to even theorize what the intent of the bombers had been. The federal Bureau of Investigation did find flyers with vague threats stuffed in nearby mailboxes, but they did not directly reference the bombing. It became the worst single loss of life in the city since the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire from nine years earlier in 1911. Today, you can still see damage from the blast at 23 Wall Street, where part of the stone wall has been preserved showing the chips in the stone from the projectiles in the explosion.

  • Just around the corner from the 23 Wall Street bombing, 8 years ago on September 17, 2011 — The Occupy Wall Street movement gathers in the Financial District, eventually settling in a camp at Zuccotti ParkThe Occupy Wall Street movement gathers in the Financial District, eventually settling in a camp at Zuccotti Park After planning to camp in either Chase Manhattan Plaza or Bowling Green Plaza, the group lucked out and selected Zuccotti Park, which is designated as a privately-owned public space. The park's status put the protest in kind of a limbo between rules the city could enforce, with police being able to monitor the camp from the sidewalk surrounding it, but otherwise needing to be invited onto the property by Brookfield, the property's owner. The protest camp would last two months until the early morning hours of November 15, when the group was evicted from Zuccotti Park by the city after courts ruled that the protesters did not have a First Amendment right to camp in the park.

  • 168 years ago on September 18, 1851 — The first edition of the New-York Daily Times is published. Six years later, the paper would shorten its name to the New York Times — The paper published six days a week with morning and evening editions and charged one penny for the day's news. A larger, weekly version was printed to be distributed outside the city. Times Square would not be renamed after the paper for another 53 years, so the first offices were downtown at 113 Nassau Street near City Hall Park, then 138 Nassau Street, then 41 Park Row. By 1904, the paper would move to the Times Tower in what was then known as Longacre Square before it was renamed Times Square in honor of the paper. After establishing the Times Square New Year's Eve ball drop from atop their building, the paper would again outgrow the location, expanding and moving some offices westward until completely relocating to their current building on Eighth Avenue. For a bit of local news, that first edition of the New-York Daily Times contained a front page story on the ongoing construction of the fountain in Washington Square Park, which would be completed one year later in 1852.

  • In another attack against the city that gets forgotten in the shadow of 9/11: 18 years ago on September 18, 2001 — One week after the September 11th attacks, letters containing anthrax poison are mailed to four NYC-area newsrooms — The letters appeared to have been mailed from Princeton, NJ and a public mailbox near the Princeton University campus was found to be contaminated with anthrax spores. Letters mailed to Democratic Senators in October 2001 contained a similar threatening note referencing the September 11th attacks. In all, 17 people were sickened and five were killed due to anthrax exposure. Victims included assistants who opened or handled the letters, postal workers who sorted the letters, and a woman from the Bronx whose exposure could never be determined. Although the letters were written to appear as if they were from Muslim extremists, an FBI investigation identified the perpetrator as an American microbiologist, vaccinologist, and senior biodefense researcher at a government facility in Maryland. Bruce Edwards Ivins, a 62-year-old white male, became the focus of the investigation seven years after the incidents, after which he started to show signs of strain and was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital where he went on to suggestively discuss the anthrax letters during therapy sessions. Ivins died by suicide on July 29, 2008 after learning that he had been identified, and the FBI formally closed the case in 2010, identifying Ivins as the sole perpetrator of the letters and detailing how he falsified evidence and attempted to frame co-workers at the governmental research lab to throw investigators off the case.

  • It was back in July when we discussed mosquitoes first testing positive for West Nile virus within the city, and this week, the first human West Nile infections were documented within the city, with one confirmed infection in Brooklyn, two in Queens, and one in Staten Island, although mosquitoes testing positive for the disease have been found in every borough. Now is the time to be prepared and protect yourself from mosquitoes if you will be outside. Wear clothing that covers your skin, use a mosquito repellent containing the chemical repellents DEET or Picaridin, or use a natural repellent containing oil of lemon eucalyptus. Be sure to seal around your window air conditioners so that mosquitoes won't have an easy entrance into your home, and use window screens if you'll be leaving windows open. If you'll be traveling overseas, take special precaution to avoid mosquito bites, and research which vaccinations you'll need to avoid diseases that are common in the areas where you will be traveling. If you're staying in the city, you can even do your part by calling 311 to report standing water, defined as a place on public or private property where water gathers and remains for more than five days, creating a habitat where mosquitoes may breed.

  • The city may have escaped the effects of the most recent Hurricane Dorian, but 81 years ago on September 21, 1938 — A Category 3 hurricane made landfall on Long Island, becoming one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded to hit New EnglandA Category 3 hurricane makes landfall on Long Island, becoming one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded to hit New England It became known as the 1938 New England Hurricane and heavily impacted Long Island, although winds were only 60 to 70mph in NYC, with eastern Long Island taking the worst damage. An estimated 682 people were killed, with damages equivalent to $4.7 billion.

A Great Big City has been running a 24-hour newsfeed since 2010, but the AGBC News podcast is just getting started, and we need your support. A Great Big City is built on a dedication to explaining what is happening and how it fits into the larger history of New York, which means thoroughly researching every topic and avoiding clickbait headlines to provide a straightforward, honest, and factual explanation of the news. Individuals can make a monthly or one-time contribution at agreatbigcity.com/support and local businesses can have a lasting impact by supporting local news while promoting products or services directly to interested customers listening to this podcast. Visit agreatbigcity.com/advertising to learn more.

AGBC is more than just a news website: It also automatically checks MTA data before morning rush hour and sends out notifications if there are delays on any subway lines, LIRR or MetroNorth trains, and bridges and tunnels. Follow @agreatbigcity on social media to receive the alerts.

Park of the day

  • Galileo Playground — 75 WEST 175 STREET, the Bronx — Previously named Macombs Park, Galileo Playground is located in Morris Heights in the west central Bronx. A former vacant lot, the land for the playground was assigned to City of New York / Parks & Recreation on December 30, 1993. Construction of the new playground was completed during the Fall of 1999 and features jungle gyms and spray showers.

Parks Events

  • Check out some birds of prey up close at the Central Park Raptor Fest — Saturday, September 14 — The Urban Park Rangers will bring a selection of eagles, falcons, owls, and hawks to this family-friendly event on the East Lawn in Central Park, just inside the park parallel at 99th Street. The event is free and starts at noon. Call (212) 360-2774 for more info.

  • And on Sunday, there will be the 39th Annual Antique Motorcycle Show in Queens at the Queens County Farm Museum — Sunday, September 15, 2019 — Over 100 antique motorcycles will be part of the show, and live music and food will be available. Tickets will cost $11 at the door to benefit the Queens County Farm Museum. The event runs from 11am to 4pm at Queens Farm Park on the border of Glen Oaks and Floral Park in Queens

And now let's check in with our robot friend for the concert calendar:

Concert Calendar

Here's the AGBC Concert Calendar for the upcoming week:

Find more fun things to do at agreatbigcity.com/events.

New York Fact

Here's something you may not have known about New York:


The extreme highs and lows for this week in weather history:
Record High: 94°F on September 13, 1952
Record Low: 44°F on September 15, 1873

Weather for the week ahead:
Possible light rain tomorrow and Sunday, with high temperatures peaking at 84°F on Monday.

Intro and outro music: 'Start the Day' by Lee Rosevere — Concert Calendar music from Jukedeck.com

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