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Today's the Day
Author: TriSec    Date: 01/15/2019 10:44:18

https://krusefeed.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Molasses-5gal.jpg



A hundred years ago today, it was an unseasonably warm day in the City of Boston. The temperature had climbed over 40 degrees, somewhat unusual in the pre-global warming era.

In the North End neighborhood, parts of it were heavily residential, as they remain today, but along the waterfront it was still industrial. Where a pleasant waterfront park stands today, a century ago there was a large railyard, working pier, and a large storage tank belonging to the Purity Distilling Company of nearby Cambridge.

Just after lunchtime that day, the unthinkable occured.


At about 12:30 in the afternoon near Keany Square, at 529 Commercial Street, a molasses tank 50 ft (15 m) tall, 90 ft (27 m) in diameter, and containing as much as 2,300,000 US gal, collapsed. Witnesses variously reported that as it collapsed they felt the ground shake and heard a roar, a long rumble similar to the passing of an elevated train (coincidentally, with a line of that type close by), a tremendous crashing, a deep growling, or "a thunderclap-like bang!" , and as the rivets shot out of the tank, a machine gun-like sound.

Molasses is about 1.5 times denser than water, so the stored molasses had a great deal of potential energy. The collapse translated this energy into a wave of molasses 25 ft (8 m) high at its peak, moving at 35 mph (56 km/h). The molasses wave was of sufficient force to damage the girders of the adjacent Boston Elevated Railway's Atlantic Avenue structure and tip a railroad car momentarily off the tracks. Author Stephen Puleo describes how nearby buildings were swept off their foundations and crushed. Several blocks were flooded to a depth of 2 to 3 ft (60 to 90 cm). Puleo quotes a Boston Post report:

Molasses, waist deep, covered the street and swirled and bubbled about the wreckage ... Here and there struggled a form‍—‌whether it was animal or human being was impossible to tell. Only an upheaval, a thrashing about in the sticky mass, showed where any life was ... Horses died like so many flies on sticky fly-paper. The more they struggled, the deeper in the mess they were ensnared. Human beings‍—‌men and women‍—‌suffered likewise.


The nature of the disaster is so comical that it sounds like it belongs in a Looney Tunes cartoon....but it really did happen. Houses were crushed, the elevated railroad was nearly knocked down, and that entire part of the North End was covered with molasses several feet deep.

Here is where the tank stood - somewhere in that now open-area in the upper left side of the photo. You can make out the edge of the old Commercial Street elevated railroad on the left.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/rf/image_960x640/Boston/2011-2020/2019/01/08/BostonGlobe.com/Magazine/Images/molasseshero.jpg


Here's a closer look at that elevated railroad after the disaster.

https://cdn.historycollection.co/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/the-aftermath-of-the-flood.-theglobecollection.jpeg


For context...here is the neighborhood in better days.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/59/North_End_molasses_tank.jpg/220px-North_End_molasses_tank.jpg


There's a teriffic book out there about these events. Wikipedia referenced it above; it is Steve Puleo's "Dark Tide". Of course I've read it. There's actually a whole lot more context than just a molasses tank exploding. At the time, the North End was a hotbed of the Italian anarchist movement....WWI was just over, and prohibition loomed on the horizon, both things important to the Purity Distilling Company that owned the tank and the molasses...and a whole lot more of the backstory of how and why such a massive industrial area was in the middle of a residential neighborhood. It's quite a fascinating read.

In my line of work, we'll have trolleys driving right down Commercial Street past the site all day. The City is planning a brief commemoration and memorial at the same hour as the disaster.

Here is an aerial photo of the neighborhood today....you'll see the Boston Globe overlaid the tank location on the left at the white circle.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/rw/Boston/2011-2020/WebGraphics/Magazine/BostonGlobe.com/2019/molassesflood/0molassesslider/assets/molasses-map-right.jpg

 

24 comments (Latest Comment: 01/15/2019 21:04:04 by Scoopster)
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Comment by wickedpam on 01/15/2019 14:07:38
Morning

Comment by Raine on 01/15/2019 14:27:47
Good Morning!





Comment by Scoopster on 01/15/2019 14:36:15
Mornin' all..

Can we talk a little bit today about this campaign being done by Gillette? I was reading some of the reaction to it and it was plainly obvious that these guys didn't even fucking bother to watch the video, or if they did their minds and behavior are just that far beyond hope.

Comment by wickedpam on 01/15/2019 14:43:25
Quote by Scoopster:
Mornin' all..

Can we talk a little bit today about this campaign being done by Gillette? I was reading some of the reaction to it and it was plainly obvious that these guys didn't even fucking bother to watch the video, or if they did their minds and behavior are just that far beyond hope.



Read some of the responses on twitter and was really dismayed. Love the ad though, it was thoughtful and positive.

Comment by BobR on 01/15/2019 14:47:04
Quote by wickedpam:
Quote by Scoopster:
Mornin' all..

Can we talk a little bit today about this campaign being done by Gillette? I was reading some of the reaction to it and it was plainly obvious that these guys didn't even fucking bother to watch the video, or if they did their minds and behavior are just that far beyond hope.

Read some of the responses on twitter and was really dismayed. Love the ad though, it was thoughtful and positive.

Same old "I want to be a jerk, but don't want to be told I'm being a jerk for being a jerk"

Comment by Scoopster on 01/15/2019 15:20:11
Comment by Raine on 01/15/2019 15:36:03
Quote by BobR:
Quote by wickedpam:
Quote by Scoopster:
Mornin' all..

Can we talk a little bit today about this campaign being done by Gillette? I was reading some of the reaction to it and it was plainly obvious that these guys didn't even fucking bother to watch the video, or if they did their minds and behavior are just that far beyond hope.

Read some of the responses on twitter and was really dismayed. Love the ad though, it was thoughtful and positive.

Same old "I want to be a jerk, but don't want to be told I'm being a jerk for being a jerk"



Comment by Raine on 01/15/2019 15:37:00

Thanks for reminding me! I almost forgot.

Comment by Scoopster on 01/15/2019 15:54:41
Quote by Raine:

Thanks for reminding me! I almost forgot.

Heh.. It's not sinking all the way!

Comment by Raine on 01/15/2019 16:02:16
Quote by Raine:

Thanks for reminding me! I almost forgot.

Well that was quick.

Comment by livingonli on 01/15/2019 16:03:00
Raine, I guess on tonight's show the big topic will be the gourmet dinner at the White House?

Comment by Raine on 01/15/2019 16:50:50







Comment by Raine on 01/15/2019 16:51:19
Quote by livingonli:
Raine, I guess on tonight's show the big topic will be the gourmet dinner at the White House?

I can't see us not talking about that cold mess.

Comment by Scoopster on 01/15/2019 16:52:52
MMMMmmmmmMMM Weedy's

Quote by Raine:








Comment by Scoopster on 01/15/2019 18:20:42
Comment by Will in Chicago on 01/15/2019 18:32:10
Quote by Scoopster:
Sen. Kaine threatens to object to Senate recess calls if McConnell continues blocking votes

GOOD. IF THEY WANNA PLAY HARDBALL, BRING IT ON CHUMPS!



Hello bloggers!!


Playing hardball will likely be necessary with McConnell around.

Comment by Raine on 01/15/2019 19:27:58
Quote by Scoopster:
Sen. Kaine threatens to object to Senate recess calls if McConnell continues blocking votes

GOOD. IF THEY WANNA PLAY HARDBALL, BRING IT ON CHUMPS!
Good!


Comment by wickedpam on 01/15/2019 19:32:06
Ohhh just saw VA Dems put up that the ERA passed the VA Senate! On to the House.

Comment by Raine on 01/15/2019 19:53:51
Quote by wickedpam:
Ohhh just saw VA Dems put up that the ERA passed the VA Senate! On to the House.




Comment by TriSec on 01/15/2019 20:21:12
Quote by livingonli:
Raine, I guess on tonight's show the big topic will be the gourmet dinner at the White House?


I really and truly wanted to believe that was from The Onion.

The President is an uncouth pig.



Comment by Raine on 01/15/2019 20:49:08
Quote by TriSec:
Quote by livingonli:
Raine, I guess on tonight's show the big topic will be the gourmet dinner at the White House?


I really and truly wanted to believe that was from The Onion.

The President is an uncouth pig.

It was surreal, for real.


Comment by Scoopster on 01/15/2019 20:59:55
Quote by Raine:
Quote by TriSec:
Quote by livingonli:
Raine, I guess on tonight's show the big topic will be the gourmet dinner at the White House?


I really and truly wanted to believe that was from The Onion.

The President is an uncouth pig.

It was surreal, for real.

I'm honestly surprised he didn't have his own damn hotels cater the whole thing.

Comment by Scoopster on 01/15/2019 21:04:04