Boston Globe Archive
Jan. 16, 1919: At approximately 12:40 p.m. on the previous day, the North End was shaken by a terrific explosion caused by the bursting of a giant tank at the Purity Distilling Co. on Commercial Street. This is a view of the aftermath looking north across North End Park. The great molasses tank was located in the center of this picture. Sections of the metal may be seen at the extreme left and right in the picture. Twenty-one people perished, including two 10-year-olds, Pasquale Iantosca and Maria Distasio, who were collecting firewood near the molasses tank while home from school for lunch.
The infamous molasses flood in Boston was a tragedy like no other. On January 15, 1919, a giant tank in the North End collapsed, sending a wave of an estimated 2.3 million gallons of molasses through the streets of Boston. The devastation the sticky liquid left was shocking. Twenty-one people were killed and 150 injured in its path of destruction. - Leanne Burden Seidel and Lisa Tuite