In this episode, our Place of Legend is now a public playground just off busy Commercial Street in Boston, where a small green plaque affixed to a low wall near the public bocce court tells of the “Great Molasses Flood” in exceptionally unemotional terms. Blaming the disaster on “structural defects” in the storage tank and “unseasonably warm temperatures,” the inconspicuous knee-level plaque conceals far more than it reveals. For the suspects in the Great Molasses flood were variously identified as bomb wielding anarchists, corner-cutting metal workers, and the inexplicable act of a perplexing God. The real cause was that profits were more important than human lives to the executives of the Purity Distilling Company and their heartless actions remain to this day far more vivid in local neighborhood lore than in the deadpan text of a plaque placed at the site of the horror by the highbrow Bostonian Society.

Listen to the sticky story of Boston’s industrial disaster — which traces its way through the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the trenches of WWI battlefields, and the run on liquor experienced on the eve of Prohibition.

Music and FX Credits

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