The Explosion at Black Tom Island in Jersey City

The explosions which occurred on July 30, 1916, in the New York Harbor, was an act of sabotage by German agents to destroy U.S.-made munitions that were to be supplied to the Allies in World War I.

A fireboat sits amid the debris after the explosion
Black Tom side, today Liberty State Park  / Image:

One of the first major explosions was around the Johnson Barge No. 17, which contained 50 tons of TNT. The explosion created a detonation wave that traveled at 7.5km per second. Fragments from the explosion traveled long distances, some lodging in the Statue of Liberty and some in the clock tower of The Jersey Journal building in Journal Square.

Windows were broken as far as 40 km away, including thousands in Lower Manhattan. Some window panes in Times Square were shattered. The stained glass windows in St. Patrick’s Church were destroyed. The outer wall of Jersey City’s City Hall was cracked and the Brooklyn Bridge was shaken.

Parts of the Jersey Pier were destroyed by the Black Tom explosion / Image: Wikipedia


Explosion at Liberty Plaque/ Image: Wikipedia

Featured Image: The aftermath of the explosion at the Black Tom Island / Image: Liberty State Park (NJ) archives


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