The 70th anniversary of the catastrophic Cocoanut Grove fire, which claimed the lives of 492 people, is just around the corner. To commemorate the tragedy, Union Park Press author Stephanie Schorow will speak about the fire at the Boston Public Library on November 14th at 6 p.m. as part of the BPL’s Local & Family History Lecture Series.
Stephanie, who wrote the recently released Drinking Boston, is also the author behind The Cocoanut Grove Fire (Commonwealth Edtions, 2005), which recounts the story behind the worst nightclub fire in U.S. history. The cause of the fire is still up for debate, though witness transcripts from the tragedy were recently released, shedding new light on what happened that fateful night. The Boston Globe covered the release and quoted Stephanie in the article, and WBUR Radio Boston interviewed her about what the transcripts revealed about the tragedy.
At the BPL talk, Stephanie, a seasoned journalist and author of six books on Boston history, will share the history behind the 1942 fire that changed Boston’s nightclub scene forever. The topic is also covered extensively in Drinking Boston. In a chapter on the history of Boston’s “Conga Belt”, Stephanie adroitly puts the Cocoanut Grove fire within the context of the decline of this popular type of drinking establishment, in Boston and beyond.
You can learn more about the Cocoanut Grove fire in Drinking Boston: A History of the City and Its Spirits and see where the nightclubs were located in the Drinking Boston smartphone app, available for free download here.