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Leonardo Luccone – Remembering Boston’s Great Molasses Flood
January 15 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Sugary-sweet molasses turned deadly on January 15, 1919, when a holding tank burst and sent 2.3 million gallons of the sticky liquid sweeping through the streets of Boston.
The source of what became known as the “Great Molasses Flood” was a 50-foot-tall steel holding tank located on Commercial Street in Boston’s North End. Its sugary-sweet contents were the property of United States Industrial Alcohol, which took regular shipments of molasses from the Caribbean and used them to produce alcohol for liquor and munitions manufacturing. The company had built the tank in 1915, when World War I had increased demand for industrial alcohol, but the construction process had been rushed and haphazard. The container started to groan and peel, and it often leaked molasses onto the street. At least one USIA employee warned his bosses that it was structurally unsound, yet outside of re-caulking it, the company took little action. By 1919, the largely Italian and Irish immigrant families on Commercial Street had grown accustomed to hearing rumbles and metallic creaks emanating from the tank.
Italian author Leonardo Luccone will be talking about the tragic event on its 100th anniversary and will read excerpts from his forthcoming book (in Italian) on the Great Molasses Flood.