The Boston Molasses Disaster

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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The Boston Molasses Disaster occurred in 1919 when a molasses storage tank located in a congested city neighborhood ruptured. A flood of viscous molasses estimated to be 20 feet high and 160 feet wide tore through the streets at nearly 35 miles an hour. The disaster took the lives of 21 men, women, and children; injured 150; and demolished everything in its path.

The Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919 occurred when a 50-foot-tall steel tank burst, sending a flood of molasses 20 feet high and nearly 200 feet wide into Boston’s North End neighborhood. This photograph captures the resulting devastation, in which 21 people died and many more were injured.
photograph courtesy of bill noonan