Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

At the turn of the 20th century in the United States, most workers had precious few rights. Few belonged to unions. And many endured deplorable conditions, dangerous tasks, grueling hours and oppressive wages. But events on the Saturday afternoon of March 25, 1911 at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City, stirred America to move to protect workers. In less than 20 minutes, 146 people were dead - some burned to death; others leaped to their deaths from 100 feet up - victims of one of the worst factory fires in America's history. After a successful strike two years earlier by the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) Local 25 helped deliver better wages and working conditions to 15000 garment workers in New York City, the owners of the Triangle factory, Isaac Harris and Max Blanck, continued to refuse to recognize unions, update any of their safety measures and continued to operate what was described as a sweatshop, producing the highly popular women's shirtwaist, a tailored blouse. Coincidentally, the strike was called when the owners of the Triangle factory fired 150 suspected union sympathizers. While Harris and Blanck grew rich tapping into the trendy clothing's popularity, workers languished in deplorable and unsafe conditions.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, one of the nation's most deadly and horrific, led to some of the nation's strongest changes in worker safety in the manufacturing industry. From the ashes of tragedy rose the phoenix of reform.

New York City and New York State, over the next few years, adopted the country's strongest worker safety protection laws. Initially addressing fire safety, these laws eventually became model legislation for the rest of the country and state after stated enacted much more strict worker safety laws. - US Department of Labor



Y/M/D Description Place
1911/03/25 Top three floors of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory burns, killing 146 people in 18 minutes Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, New York City
1911/04/00 Twenty-two victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory are buried by the Free Hebrew Burial Association. Mount Richmond Cemetery, New York City
1911/04/05 Six victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire buried at Evergreens Cemetery. Evergreens Cemetery, New York City
1911/04/05 Unidentified victums Triangle Shirtwaist Fire are buried at Mount Zion Cemetery, Maspeth, Queens, New York. Bessie Dashefsky, a Russian immigrant born in 1886, will eventually be identified. Mount Zion Cemetery (Queens, NYC), New York City
1911/04/11 Triangle Shirtwaist Company owners, Isaac Harris and Max Blanck, are indicted on seven counts of manslaughter in the first and second degree.
1911/06/30 Factory Investigating Commission is established by a law introduced by New York Senate majority leader Robert Wagner and Al E Smith.
1911/12/27 After the testimony from more than 100 witnesses, Harris and Blanck are acquitted of all charges. Having deliberated for less than 2 hours, the jury said the prosecutor's did not prove that the men had known of the locked door at the time of the fire.
1912/00/00 Candler Building is constructed with a fire tower, an enclosed fire stairway on the back of the building reached by an outside walkway. In 1911, 146 workers had died in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, due to locked doors to the stairwell. Candler Building NYC, New York City
1912/00/00 Harris and Blanck ultimately collect $60,000 in insurance money - more than the fire had actually cost them in damages, making a profit from the fire of $400 per victim.
1913/00/00 Harris and Blanck move the Triangle Shirtwaist Company to a bigger location on West 23rd Street, NYC.
1913/03/00 Triangle Shirtwaist Company owners, Isaac Harris and Max Blanck, reach a settlement with the victims' families in which they will pay a week's worth of wages for each worker.
2011/03/20 100 Years Later, the Roll of the Dead in a Factory Fire Is Complete - Almost a century after the fire, the 5 women and 1 man, buried under the Evergreens monument have been identified, largely through the persistence of a researcher, Michael Hirsch. - NYT Evergreens Cemetery, New York City

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