On This Day: February 26st

Brennan Krahn, News Reporter

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    The 1993 World Trade Center bombing was a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, carried out on February 26, 1993, when a truck bomb detonated below the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The 1,336 lb (606 kg) urea nitrate–hydrogen gas enhanced device was intended to send the North Tower crashing into the South Tower, bringing both towers down and killing tens of thousands of people. It failed to do so but killed six people and injured over a thousand. The attack was planned by a group of terrorists. In March 1994, four men were convicted of carrying out the bombing. The charges included conspiracy, explosive destruction of property, and interstate transportation of explosives. In November 1997, two more were convicted: the mastermind behind the bombings, and the one who drove the truck carrying the bomb.

    The bomb instantly cut off the World Trade Center’s main electrical power line, knocking out the emergency lighting system. The bomb caused smoke to rise to the 93rd floor of both towers, including through the stairwells, which were not pressurized, and smoke went up the damaged elevators in the World Trade Center Towers 1 & 2. With thick smoke filling the stairwells, evacuation was difficult for building occupants and led to many smoke inhalation injuries. Hundreds were trapped in elevators in the towers when the power was cut, including a group of 17 kindergartners, on their way down from the South Tower observation deck, who were trapped between the 35th and 36th floors for five hours. Also, as a result of the loss of power, most of New York City’s radio and television stations lost their over-the-air broadcast signal for almost a week, with television stations only being able to broadcast via cable and satellite via a microwave hookup between the stations and three of the New York area’s largest cable companies, Cablevision, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable. Telephone service for much of Lower Manhattan was also disrupted.

    A granite memorial fountain honoring the victims of the bombing was designed by Elyn Zimmerman and dedicated in 1995 on Austin J. Tobin Plaza, directly above the site of the explosion. It contained the names of the six adults who were killed in the attack as well as an inscription that read: “On February 26, 1993, a bomb set by terrorists exploded below this site. This horrible act of violence killed innocent people, injured thousands, and made victims of us all.” The fountain was destroyed with the rest of the World Trade Center during the September 11 attacks. A recovered fragment from the 1993 bombing memorial with the text “John D”, from bombing victim John DiGiovanni, was later incorporated into a temporary memorial designed by Port Authority architect Jacqueline Hanley, and erected on the Liberty Street side of the site following the September 11 attacks. The memorial was visible across a fence barrier but was not open to the public. At the 9/11 Memorial, which opened on the tenth anniversary of the 2001 attacks, the six adult victims of the 1993 bombing are memorialized at the North Pool, on Panel N-73. The recovered fragment of the memorial fountain is on display among other artifacts related to the bombing inside the museum’s historical exhibition.