On March 25th, 1911 fire broke out in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory located on the eighth through tenth floors of the Asch building, currently the the landmarked Brown Building of Science, on Washington Place. It was one of the worst industrial fires in our local history -- a tragedy that caused 146 innocent deaths, mostly of women. The fire's cause was suspected to be a match or cigarette butt, thrown hastily into a scrap bin, since exits were locked to prevent some 500 workers from smoking during their breaks.
As a result, new regulations in factory safety were implemented, and the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, created, to protect the rights of laborers, many of whom were immigrants. Although sweatshop practices continued for decades, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire set a precedent for labor laws ensuring health and safety of workers.
The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.
- Mrs. Belmont Sees Whitman: District Attorney Urged To Press Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Indictments. (1912, Feb 06). New York Times (1857-1922)
- Tragedy Recalls Triangle Shirtwaist Fire That Killed 145 In 1911: Past Toll In City Is In Thousands. (1958, Mar 20). New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Katz, R. (1961, Mar 25). 50 Years Ago Today, 147 Died In the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Brooks, T. (1962, Apr 22). Out Of the Ashes A Cry For Reform. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Shepard, R.F.. (1975, Sep 01). About New York: A Remembrance Of Labor Days Past. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Special to The New York Times. (1988, Sep 04). Investigators Find Sweatshops Are In Resurgence: The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire IsInvoked By Federal Officials. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Herbert, B. (1994, Dec 28). The Sweatshop Lives. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Kaufman M.T. (1999, Feb 24). Bessie Cohen, 107, Survivor of 1911 Shirtwaist Fire, Dies: A Seamstress Fled A Blaze That Led To Safer Workplaces. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Delbanco, A. (2001, Mar 04). Playing In the Neighborhood: Washington Square The Historic Fire That Still Burns In Memory. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Crow, K. (2002, Nov 17). Lower Manhattan: Where 146 Died In A Fire, And A Union Was Born. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Christian, N. M. (2003, Mar 26). A Landmark Of the Unspeakable: Honoring the Site Where 146 Died In the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Kehe, M. (2006, Jun 20). Before 9/11 Was the Fire At Triangle: A New Novel Sets An Examination Of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire In Today's New York. The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current File)
- Check out Triangle Factory Fire, an exhibit from Cornell University which includes criminal trial transcripts, lists of victims and witnesses, bibliography, tips for student projects, and much more.
- The 1911 Triangle Fire and Reform, Episode 18 of America in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (29 min), via Kanopy
- The Triangle Fire, by Leon Stein. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University/ILR Press, 2011 e-book
- Firefighters Spray Water On the Asch Building Trying To Put Out the Triangle Factory Fire Blaze, March 25, 1911, Wikimedia Commons
- Special News Slide, Courtesy of the Gottesman Libraries
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