March 25, 1911: Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in New York City

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by KenH, Mar 25, 2009.

  1. KenH

    KenH
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    March 25, 1911
    Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in New York City

    In one of the darkest moments of America's industrial history, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory in New York City burns down, killing 145 workers, on this day in 1911. The tragedy led to the development of a series of laws and regulations that better protected the safety of factory workers.

    The Triangle factory, owned by Max Blanck and Isaac Harris, was located in the top three floors of the 10-story Asch Building in downtown Manhattan. It was a sweatshop in every sense of the word: a cramped space lined with work stations and packed with poor immigrant workers, mostly teenaged women who did not speak English. At the time of the fire, there were four elevators with access to the factory floors, but only one was fully operational and it could hold only 12 people at a time. There were two stairways down to the street, but one was locked from the outside to prevent theft by the workers and the other opened inward only. The fire escape, as all would come to see, was shoddily constructed, and could not support the weight of more than a few women at a time.

    Blanck and Harris already had a suspicious history of factory fires. The Triangle factory was twice scorched in 1902, while their Diamond Waist Company factory burned twice, in 1907 and in 1910. It seems that Blanck and Harris deliberately torched their workplaces before business hours in order to collect on the large fire-insurance policies they purchased, a not uncommon practice in the early 20th century. While this was not the cause of the 1911 fire, it contributed to the tragedy, as Blanck and Harris refused to install sprinkler systems and take other safety measures in case they needed to burn down their shops again.

    - more at www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=VideoArticle&id=52370
     
  2. billwald

    billwald
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    My Old Man saw the fire and the people jumping put of windows.

    Of course, under the Constitution the business owners had a perfect right to run their sweat shop any way they wanted because the people had a right to refuse the job, right?
     

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