A Sticky-Sweet Demise: The Boston Molasses Flood of 1919

94 years ago today, in the North End neighborhood of Boston, citizens faced a nearly-30ft wave of molasses, resulting in 21 fatalities and a myriad of severe injuries.

Yup. A wave. Of molasses.

The North End at that time was home to ‘The Gassy,’ a five-story crude molasses holding tank erected by the U.S. Industrial Alcohol (USIA) in order to facilitate more efficient rum production in the area. The massive container, though useful in its placement, was later found to have been built hastily with sub-standard steel plates. When leaks were reported by concerned workers and citizens, little was done to repair the damage. This corporate oversight later caused one of the most famous ‘contemporary’ disasters in Boston’s history.

Boston, 1904.

The rupture occurred right after lunchtime- when local workers had re-situated themselves around “the gassy” for the rest of the day.

Courtesy of the Boston Globe Archives

[Click on the image above for more visual history of the flood]

Some North End residents say that on a hot summer day, you can still smell the sweet historical residue lingering in the air.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s