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

  • Aly Song / Reuters

    Photos: Life in the Time of Coronavirus

    Images from Wuhan, Beijing, Shanghai, and other locations in China over the past two weeks, as residents continue to cope with COVID-19

  • Don Landwehrle / Shutterstock

    Vermont: Images of the Green Mountain State

    A few glimpses into the varied landscape of Vermont, and some of the animals and people calling it home

  • Dolores Ochoa / AP

    Photos of the Week: Shanghai Fog, Malta Moon, Storm Ciara

    Heavy rain in southeastern Australia, the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary, the 92nd Oscar awards in Hollywood, coronavirus in China, Makha Bucha in Thailand, and much more

  • Sander Grefte / International Landscape Photographer of the Year

    Top Shots From the 2019 International Landscape Photographer of the Year

    Some of the top and winning images from this year’s landscape-photography competition