Ninety-three years ago today, on January 15th 1919, it was a surprisingly warm day (40F) in Boston Massachusetts. People near Kearney Square reported hearing a sound not unlike a machine gun. What they heard was the sound of rivets popping out of the seams of a 50 foot tall tank of molasses located at 529 Commercial Street. The tank contained over 8.5 million liters of molasses.
There is a common idiom in the northeast: “As slow as molasses in January”. On that warm January day the wave of molasses is calculated to have traveled at 35MPH. It destroyed architectural supports and moved buildings off their foundations.
People who were not crushed by the impact were suffocated by the sticky fluid. Survivors spoke of passing out because they were unable to breath. Twenty-one people died and over fifty were injured.
On warm days the neighborhood supposedly still sweetly smells of molasses.