Triangle Shirtwaist Fire: March 25, 1911
One hundred years ago today one of the deadliest fires in American history occurred at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City. The company occupied the upper floors of the Asch Building (shown below) which is just east of Washington Square Park and Greenwich Village. Despite the heavy loss of life, the building survived the fire and is today part of NYU School of Law. Months of accumulated fabric trimmings provided ready fuel to the fire and exit doors that were padlocked to prevent pilferage by workers were mostly responsible for the 146 deaths that resulted. Most of those killed were young Jewish and Italian immigrant women.
The Triangle Fire prompted radical changes in the New York City building code, changes that spread across America and which have undoubtedly saved countless lives during the intervening century. An excellent history of the fires is “Triangle: The Fire that Changed America” by David von Drehle.
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Right nearby in Lawrence, MA we will be having our own major labor centennial with the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the 1912 Lawrence textile strike, which came to be known in the history books as the Bread & Roses strike. 20,000 mostly women immigrant workers stood up to the largest woolen corporations in the nation in the dead of winter and were successful in their strike. The strike and its meaning for today will be celebrated, debated, and placed on display across all of 2012, starting with a permanent historical exhibit on the strike set to open next January. New events are being added all the time to the 2012 calendar.
For more information and to find out how you can get involved in this undertaking visit: