History

By - 1/15/19 - 12:32 pm
People gathered in a ring in the North End to commemorate the Great Molassses Flood

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. Read more.

By - 1/14/19 - 10:12 am
Molasses tank as seen from elevated railroad along Commercial Street

Pre-explosion view of tank from Commercial Street el, from Boston City Archives.

The Boston Archaeology Program, Parks Department and Landmarks Commission will commemorate the 21 people who died in a flood of molasses on Jan. 15, 1919, in a ceremony that starts at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday at Langone Park in the North End - near where a tank of hot molasses burst, sending a flood of girder-bending goo down Commercial Street.

Other molasses-related events.

By - 1/13/19 - 12:40 pm
Indian pudding at Durgin-Park

One last Indian pudding (made with molasses) at Durgin-Park.

Time to pour one out for Durgin-Park, the Boston landmark that opened in 1827 and closed last night, after serving its last prime rib, baked beans (in a bean pot) and Indian pudding, after the New York company that's owned it since 2007 decided it was never going to make money again. Read more.

By - 1/10/19 - 9:17 am

No, not the sweet smell that would rise every summer from the North End. Pacific Standard explains how the disaster on Jan. 15, 1919 led to dramatic changes in the way cities and states regulate construction projects to reduce the odds of shoddy work leading to catastrophe (we saw a similar thing after the Cocoanut Grove with fire-safety regulations).

Events marking the 100th anniversary of the Flood.

By - 1/7/19 - 11:06 am
Little kid in front of the Cape Co. in old Boston

The folks at the Boston City Archives wonder if you can place this scene. See it larger.

By - 1/3/19 - 5:56 pm
Durgin-Park matchbook cover

Old Durgin-Park matchbook cover. See it larger.

The place that's been serving food since before you were born will close forever on Jan. 12, NBC Boston reports. The joint just doesn't make money anymore, WBZ reports. Has anybody checked on the Union Oyster House?

Image from the BPL matchbook-cover collection.

By - 1/3/19 - 4:06 pm
Molasses flood aftermath

Stephen Puleo, who literally wrote the book about the 1919 Great Molasses Flood (Dark Tide), will give a talk on the deadly, brown, gooey tsunami at the BPL on Jan. 15 - 100 years to the day after a shoddy, 50-foot-tall molasses tank on Commercial Street in the North End exploded, sending a deep river of warm molasses along the waterfront at 35 m.p.h., killing 21 people and several horses, demolishing a fire house and warping the elevated tracks that then ran above the street. Read more.

By - 1/3/19 - 9:39 am

Aline Kaplan explains its link to the Marquis de Lafayette and takes a look at its later descent into a key part of the Combat Zone.

By - 1/1/19 - 7:57 pm
Flag raised in Somerville

Ron Newman attended the annual recreation of the first ever raising of what we now know as an American flag, on Jan. 1, 1776 over Prospect Hill in Somerville.

Washington himself ordered the flag raised over the camp of what was the new Continental Army.

By - 12/28/18 - 3:35 pm

The Boston Fire Department reports firefighters were summoned to a fire at 94 Endicott St. in the North End around 5:14 a.m. by a resident who thought to use a street fire-alarm box when calling 911 from a phone didn't work - from the same location where the world's first ever municipal fire-box alarm was pulled in 1852. Read more.

By - 12/16/18 - 1:39 pm
By - 12/13/18 - 8:58 am

A Dig reporter has to get up pretty early in the morning to catch the one train a day that leaves Plimptonville for Boston - it departs at 6:58 a.m.

I drove to Plimptonville one morning this fall, I think to find its reason for existing. Assuming there is one.

By - 12/11/18 - 10:57 am
Horses in the snow in old Boston

The folks at the Boston City Archives wonder if you can place this horsey, snowy photo. See it larger.

By - 11/30/18 - 11:05 am
Old Black Angus on Boston street

The Chevy billboard gives away the rough date of this photo, but the folks at the Boston City Archives wonder if you can figure out the street where this photo was taken. See it larger.

By - 11/26/18 - 7:34 pm

The BBC revisits the history of Watch City, a.k.a. Waltham, the city that made time regular.

Well, except for Ashland, a.k.a. Clocktown (the high-school teams are the Clockers), named for the factory that made the world's first electric clocks, as designed by Henry Ellis Warren.

By - 11/22/18 - 9:48 am

The Quincy House hotel, at the corner of Brattle Place and Brattle Square, had this cover printed for its Thanksgiving dinner in 1899 (from the New York Public Library collection). Read more.

By - 11/14/18 - 9:00 am

With Redcoats firmly ensconced in Boston 250 years ago, they weren't going to tolerate major infractions among troops - such as desertion. J.L. Bell recounts the execution of Pvt. Richard Eames of the 14th Regiment on the Common for desertion.

By - 11/13/18 - 9:54 am

The Tufts Observer recounts the university's long history of taking opium-linked money, from donations from a member of the Cabot family to the building named after the couple who gave us OxyContin.