If youve been listening to the show for a while, youll know that the Boston Harbor Islands are one of our favorite local destinations. This week, were sharing three stories from the Harbor Islands, all of which originally aired within the first 20 episodes of the podcast. Well hear about the zoo shipwreck, a hermit who made her home on the harbor, and the secret Harbor Island base where Nazis were smuggled into the country after World War II.
The 1942 fire at Boston’s Cocoanut Grove nightclub killed a staggering 492 people, making it the deadliest fire in Boston history and one of the deadliest fires in US history. For Boston, it is the deadliest modern disaster of any type. Only the smallpox epidemics of the early 1700s and the 1918 Spanish flu rival it for loss of life.
At the end of World War II, the Allied powers raced across Germany, competing to capture technology related to Nazi super-weapons and the scientists who developed them. The US military operated a secret program that located high-value scientists, smuggling them into the US and falsifying their wartime records. For many of the scientists who went on to work on the Manhattan Project or the space race, their first stop in America was a secret base in Boston Harbor.