On This Day: The Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919

On January 15, 1919, in Boston's North End, a 50-foot-tall tank holding 2.3 million gallons of molasses burst, unleashing a deadly wave that rose nearly 25 feet high at one point. The destructive flood threw people and horses about, smashed buildings, and even damaged the steel supports of an elevated railway. Rescuers had to wade through knee-deep molasses and sticky debris to reach survivors. Twenty-one people died in the disaster, another 150 were injured, and the cleanup lasted for weeks. The cause of the failure was determined to be faulty construction and poor maintenance.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Yasin Akgul / AFP / Getty

    The Beginning of the Battle for Mosul

    Thousands of Iraqi and Kurdish troops, supported by the United States, France, and Britain, are now in the early stages of a massive operation to retake the Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, from ISIS militants.

  • Jim Cole / AP

    Fall Is in the Air, Part II

    One last overview of autumn

  • Hector Retamal / AFP / Getty

    A Humanitarian Crisis in Haiti After Hurricane Matthew

    The UN estimates at least 1.4 million Haitians are now in need of urgent assistance as clean water, food, and medicine are in short supply.

  • China Stringer Network / Reut / REUTERS

    Animals in the News

    It’s time once again for a look at the animal kingdom and our interactions with the countless species that share our planet.

Join the Discussion