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This Day In History, 1911: Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

Haven't done one of these in a while, but this one is of personal interest to me.

March 25, 1911:

The Triangle Shirtwaist Company was typical of the garment shops that packed New York City's Lower East Side in the early 1900s: staffed primarily by young, female immigrants, the factory lacked basic safety measures like fire escapes and working exit doors. These conditions, clearly ripe for disaster, did indeed lead to trouble on this day in 1911. During the afternoon, a pile of rags in the shop burst into flames; the fire quickly, and tragically, engulfed the factory. Effectively trapped inside the flaming building, many of the workers either expired from asphyxiation or leapt from windows, a fatal, ten-story fall. The blaze, which lasted less than an hour, claimed 146 lives, marking one of the worst fire-related industrial disasters in America's history. The Triangle Shirtwaist tragedy shed a harsh light on the hazardous conditions that factory owners had allowed to exist in the name of industrial capitalism. It also galvanized various portions of the public, as reformers, workers, and survivors of the fire banded together to push for factory reform. The state government heeded this call and passed a set of laws aimed at safeguarding workers' health and safety. Along with this landmark legislation, workers also won a modicum of justice: the owners of the Triangle Shirtwaist were eventually found guilty on charges of manslaughter.

(cf. http://www.historychannel.com/tdih)
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Martha's grandmother or great-grandmother (I forget which) was fired from there just before the fire. Go figure!
Really? I'd love to know more.

Personal Connection to History

I posted on this in gnomi's LJ when she posted about a book she read on the fire. My great-grandmother (I don't remember offhand if it was Martha or Sophie -- I can check on that if you care) was working at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. The union representative thought she was cute and kept talking to her -- trying to get her to go out with him. The union was in the process of trying to get the shop unionized. So great-grandmother gets called before the boss. They've seen her talking to the union rep, so she's fired. This was about a week before the fire, from what I've heard. So I have that union rep to thank for my existence.

Re: Personal Connection to History

So if I write a time travel story about the Triangle fire, I'll have to put your great-grandmother in it...

Studied this...

I studied that tragedy in a course I took. The fire department I work for mandates it. Have you ever looked into the MGM Grand Fire?

Here's the link.


Re: Studied this...


The two fires I'm most interested in are the General Slocum (obviously, if you've seen "Time Ablaze") and the Triangle. I'm fascinated as to how the first one was forgotten, and the second one influential.

Re: Studied this...

It is sad that such a tragedy was regulated to a smaller place in history.

December 2016

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