Bostonians this morning lined the perimeter of the Purity Distilling Co.'s leaky, 50-foot-tall molasses tank, which burst around 12:40 p.m. on Jan. 15, 1919, creating a gooey flood that killed 21 Bostonians and a number of horses and destroyed buildings in its path.
The same spot 100 years ago - looking towards the elevated that then ran over Commercial Street, after more than 2 million gallons of molasses poured out (1919 photos from the Boston City Archives molasses collection):
Parks Commissioner Christopher Cook recited the names of the dead as city Archaeologist Joseph Bagley and other Bostonians listened.
People observed a moment of silence for the dead.
Flattened by molasses, in photo taken on Jan. 15, 1919 from the Commercial Street el:
Historian Bernard Trubowitz came dressed as a worker of the day (although, he said, more like a rail worker than a molasses worker):
People who attended the commemoration knew where to stand thanks to UMass Boston researchers, who used a ground-penetrating radar to determine the exact perimeter of the tank, based on echoes they found about 20 inches below what is now a Langone Park baseball field:
At the park's entrance on Commercial Street, a bottle of molasses paid mute witness above the small plaque that is our only official permanent remembrance of the disaster:
An elevated train passes the tank in 1916:
The elevated after the tank collapsed:
The Fire Department used powerful hoses to try to wash all the sticky molasses into Boston Harbor, but, of course, the story goes that Bostonians could get a whiff of the stuff on warm summer days for decades after.