On December 4, 1783, General George Washington delivered his farewell address to the armed forces at Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan.
Nearly two centuries later — on January 24, 1975 — the radical Marxist group FALN (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional Puertoriquena; in English: Armed Forces of Puerto Rican National Liberation) attempted to blow Fraunces Tavern to smithereens.
The group targeted the storied restaurant due to its popularity with financial workers from nearby Wall Street.
Without detection, an FALN operative slipped an attache case packed with 10 pounds of dynamite into the tavern’s entrance way. The bomb detonated at 1:29 P.M. on a typically busy afternoon, shattering windows, collapsing a marble staircase, and spraying deadly carnage in every direction.
Fraunces Tavern survived the explosion. However, four unsuspecting diners — Alejandro Berger, 28; Frank Connor, 33; James Gezork, 32; and Harold H. Sherburne, 60 — did not.
In addition, the blast injured and maimed 43 other victims, many of them severely and/or permanently, losing limbs and eyesight.
Fifteen minutes later, an anonymous caller told the NYPD: “This is FALN.” A note found near the sudden warzone read, “[FALN takes] full responsibility for the especially detornated [sic] bomb that exploded today at Fraunces Tavern, with reactionary corporate executives inside… You have unleashed a storm from which you comfortable Yankis (sic) cannot escape.”
FALN further claimed that the attack came in retaliation for what they called a “CIA ordered bomb” that killed three and wounded 11 two weeks earlier in Puerto Rico.
For years, the perpetrators eluded capture. FALN continued terrorist attacks for the next three years, ultimately setting off 130 bombs that killed six and debilitated hundreds.
While various FALN members have subsequently been brought to justice for other crimes (one of whom, William Morales, escaped and still resides in Cuba), to date, no one has ever been tried for the Fraunces Tavern bombing.
Fraunces Tavern remains open for business.
Main photo: Fraunces Tavern [WikiMedia Commons]