Just a historical reminder that sometimes the truly unexpected happens and a “black swan” turns out to be black molasses.
94 years ago, January 15, 1919, was a tragic day in the North End.
Back then, the area was heavily industrialized- packed with people and a 2.3 million gallon cast-iron tank fifty feet above street level was not out of place. The tank was full of molasses, often used as a sweetener, but in this case (and applicable to this blog), it had been slated by the United States Industrial Alcohol Company for rum production.
Unseasonably warm weather that day after near zero temperatures days before may have contributed to the disaster; just after lunch time the tank ruptured spilling the entire deadly, sticky stuff onto Commercial Street in a 30 foot wave- 21 people were killed, 150 injured.
Many officials talk about all-hazard planning, but I suspect more than a few of them have very specific hazards in mind. A truly unique disaster that occurred almost 100 years ago is a good reminder of the danger of that approach.
(On an unrelated note, for those readers living or visiting the Boston area, I would highly recommend visiting either of the restaurants that Josh co-owns and occasionally bartends: Silvertone and Trina’s Starlite Lounge. Great food, drink, and people.)