For six years during the early 1950s, “The Mad Bomber” terrorized New Yorkers by planting 32 pipe bombs all over Manhattan. Bombs were left at Grand Central Station, Penn Station, The Port Authority, at subway stations, at Radio City Music Hall, at Macy’s, at various movie theaters, at the New York Public Library, at the RCA Building and at the Con-Edison building. Bringing Con-Ed to “justice” was the reason for them all.
by Mark Pulham
It was Monday, May 23, 1994 when the old man died. He passed away at the age of 90 in his home town of Waterbury, Connecticut. It was not a huge news event, probably only mentioned in the local newspapers, in the obituary section. Among the general media, his death went unnoticed. There was no reason why it would be noticed, after all, the death of a 90 year old man was not news, it happens all the time.
But at one time, this man had been in the newspapers with an alarming regularity, though not by the name his family knew him by, and it is partly due to him, and a second man, that a new and powerful weapon was added to the crime investigation arsenal.
It began quietly, not with a bang, over 50 years earlier, in 1940.
The Consolidated Edison Company had been around for well over a hundred years, since 1823, when it was still known as the New York Gas Light Company. In 1884, it combined with five other gas suppliers to form the Consolidated Gas Company, and later acquired the new electrical companies as well.
Eventually, on March 23, 1936, the company renamed itself and became the Consolidated Edison Company of New York.
By 1940, Con-Ed was the main supplier of energy to New York City. Several thousand people worked for the utility, and their customers numbered several million people and businesses.
Con Ed’s huge offices were at 170 West 64th Street in Manhattan. On November 16, 1940, a man entered the building. With hundreds of employee’s working there, the man didn’t stand out, and no one noticed him among the all the others.
“F.P.” Leaves a Pipe Bomb
He carried with him a wooden toolbox which he placed on a window sill. No one took any notice of the man as he walked away, leaving the toolbox behind. No one took any notice as the man quietly left the building.
How long the toolbox sat there is unknown, but eventually, someone saw it and went to examine it. Inside, they found a short brass pipe that had been filled with gunpowder, probably taken from bullets. There were flashlight batteries and sugar, which made up the mechanism that would set it off. Wrapped around this crudely constructed pipe bomb, hand written in neat block letters, was a note. It read: “CON EDISON CROOKS. THIS IS FOR YOU.” It was signed “F.P.”