Triangle Waist Company

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Triangle Waist Company,

often called the Triangle Shirtwaist Co., manufacturers of women's cotton and linen blouses. Located in lower Manhattan in the early 20th cent., on Mar. 25, 1911 it was the site of New York City's worst factory fire. The company, which occupied the top three floors of the 10-story Asch Building, employed some 500 young seamstresses, mainly Jewish and Italian immigrants, and less than 100 men. The fire began on the eighth floor at about 4:45 PM; fed by burning cloth, it became a conflagration. Although hindered by inward-opening doors that slammed shut in the crush, most of those on the eighth and tenth floors managed to escape, but on the ninth the rear door, bolted to prevent theft, could not be opened, and after the fire escape collapsed most were trapped. Clothes and hair ablaze, many women jumped to their deaths. Fire companies could do little, as neither water from their hoses nor their ladders reached above the seventh floor and their safety nets ripped with the weight of so many. In less than 15 minutes 146 died, nearly all women.

The company's owners were tried for manslaughter, but acquitted (1914), and their liability was limited to $75 in damages paid to 23 of the victims' families, awarded after a civil suit. The outcry occasioned by the fire, however, led to important reforms. The Factory Investigating Commission (headed by Robert F. WagnerWagner, Robert Ferdinand
, 1877–1953, American legislator, b. Germany. He arrived with his family in the United States in 1885 and grew up in poor surroundings in New York City.
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 and Alfred E. SmithSmith, Alfred Emanuel,
1873–1944, American political leader, b. New York City. Reared in poor surroundings, he had no formal education beyond grade school and took various jobs—including work in the Fulton fish market—to help support his family.
..... Click the link for more information.
), the Bureau of Fire Investigation, and the Fire Department's Fire Prevention Division were all established later in 1911. The ultimate result of their investigations were new labor, health, and fire safety laws, which, among other things, mandated outward-opening doors, sprinkler systems, fire drills, and regular building inspections, and forbade locked doors during working hours. The fire also led to increasingly successful labor-union organizing in city factories and sweatshops, particularly by the International Ladies Garment Workers UnionInternational Ladies Garment Workers Union
(ILGWU), former U.S. labor union, formed in 1900 by the amalgamation of seven local unions. At the turn of the century most of the workers in the garment industry were Jewish immigrants, whose attempts at organization were hampered by
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 and, more broadly, to a liberal and reformist movement within the Democratic party.

Bibliography

See L. Stein, The Triangle Fire (1962, repr. 2011); D. Von Drehle, Triangle (2003).

References in periodicals archive ?
Stories about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire are legends.
On a cold, sunny day in late March 2011, a crowd gathered at the corner where the disaster happened, gazing up at the black-draped windows on the ninth floor as they waited for the centennial commemoration of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire to begin.
TRIANGLE KATHARINE WEBER: Fictional Esther Gottesfield survives the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York then goes on to face more tragedy and raise a son, and then a granddaughter, alone.
The event that brought Steuer and Alterman together was the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire that occurred on March 25, 1911.
By March 1911 the real world intrudes when the twins react to the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire by volunteering for the Red Cross.
Croker Fire Drill Corporation was born of the ashes of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.
The industrial safety movement began in the United States in the early 20th century after notable incidents such as the Triangle ShirtWaist Factory fire in New York City in 1911 that killed over 100 workers.
They dramatize the famous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 in which 146 young immigrant women lost their lives in a Manhattan sweatshop whose doors were locked to keep them in.
Perhaps: but the memory of the "tragedy" of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire continues to be among the greatest of contemporary cultural resources for combating abusive workplace conditions.
The fire evokes images of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire of 1911 in New York City, where 146 young women died when a fire broke out on the top floors of a sweatshop.
These are just a few excerpts of the gripping testimony by observers and survivors of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire that took 146 workers' lives.

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