101 years ago today – the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire


The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city of New York and resulted in the fourth highest loss of life from an industrial accident in U.S. history. It was also the second deadliest disaster in New York City – after the burning of the General Slocum on June 15, 1904 – until the destruction of the World Trade Center 90 years later. The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers, who died from the fire, smoke inhalation, or falling to their deaths. Most of the victims were recent Jewish and Italian immigrant women aged sixteen to twenty-three; the oldest victim was 48, the youngest were two fourteen-year-old girls.

Because the managers had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits – a common practice at the time to prevent pilferage and unauthorized breaks – many of the workers who could not escape the burning building jumped from the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors to the streets below. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, which fought for better working conditions for sweatshop workers.

The owners were acquitted of any crime. In a civil suit they were ordered to pay $75 to the families of each victim. One of the witnesses to the fire was Frances Perkins, who later served as the U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945, and who was the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet.

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41 Responses to 101 years ago today – the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

  1. threewickets says:

    Must have walked by that building a hundred times, but only learned this history last year. Everything in the city changes constantly, except the buildings.

  2. propertius says:

    One of the witnesses to the fire was Frances Perkins, who later served as the U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945, and who was the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet.

    …and who was personally responsible for persuading Roosevelt to back many of the programs, such as Social Security and unemployment compensation, that are considered hallmarks of the New Deal. She’s one of the great (mostly unsung) heroines of American history.

    Just couldn’t resist the opportunity to give her some well-deserved praise.

  3. myiq2xu says:

    Looks like Tiger Woods won his first PGA tournament since his wife showed him how to swing a club.

  4. myiq2xu says:

    I’m watching Ray right now. Awesome movie. Jamie Foxx earned his Oscar.

  5. HELENK says:

    I am reading a book right now called ” The Gods of Gotham” about the beginnings of the New York CIty Police Force. It is an era of a large immigration of the Irish to New York and how the poor were looked down upon and how they were treated. It shows how little value the life of the working poor was given. How something like the shirt factory fire could happen

  6. HELENK says:


    every day I am more and more ashamed that I was ever a democrat.
    The death of a child is something that never heals. To have the death of a child used for political purpose and to incite racial unrest is just beyond the pale and lower than whale shit

    • myiq2xu says:

      Shouldn’t they at least wait until there is some official finding or verdict?

      I guarantee that the hearings will shed no light on the incident.

    • DandyTiger says:

      The Dems couldn’t let Repubs have all the fun, they wanted their own Terri Schiavo. I guess Schumer is playing the part of Frist.

      • HELENK says:

        I was just as angry at the republicans for using Terri Schiavo as I am at the democrats for using Trayon Martin for political purposes.

        The pain of a childs death is hard enough without it being exploited.

        • votermom says:

          I am so angry at the way this shooting is being exploited.

          Someone, I think it was JWSmart, basically said it’s another iteration of “hate hour” and that is so true.

        • WMCB says:

          HONK! Saying “This is not the time for political haymaking – it merely adds to the circus.” is NOT the same thing as saying “Those laws are perfect, and don’t need any tweaking at all, ever.”

          Maybe those laws do need some clarifying. Maybe the laws regarding end of life decisions do as well. Maybe that’s a discussion that needs to be had, at some point. But jumping on it so gleefully and immediately with both feet, to make a political spectacle and score “points”, is wrong.

    • ralphb says:

      What’s the problem with taking a look at “stand your ground” laws and the way they are used around the country? Somehow I’m missing the incitement of racial unrest.

      The Hill: Sen. Schumer presses DOJ to probe ‘stand your ground’ laws

      • myiq2xu says:

        I could think of better things for Congress to spend its time on. But have at it. Florida had this law for five years. How many deaths would have been ruled murder/manslaughter but for the law?

        “No duty to retreat” has a long history under US law.

        BTW – I liked you better before you turned into a troll.

        • ralphb says:

          Thanks. What concerns me is not so much the law as the implementation because, if the Sanford PD is to be believed, it’s not the same as in my state. I can shoot someone who breaks into my home with no problem. My castle does not extend to the middle of the street at 6th and Lavaca. If I shoot and kill someone there, I’m gonna see the inside of a police station pronto. Unless I have a very compelling story with perhaps a corroborating witness, there is a good chance I’m gonna be charged. That does not seem to be the case in Florida, maybe?

          Speaking of “No duty to retreat”, neither party apparently has that duty in this case. So I don’t know which one was acting in self defense yet. Common sense appears to differ from Florida law.

          BTW– I liked you better before you turned into a wingnut.

        • myiq2xu says:

          My castle does not extend to the middle of the street at 6th and Lavaca. If I shoot and kill someone there, I’m gonna see the inside of a police station pronto. Unless I have a very compelling story with perhaps a corroborating witness, there is a good chance I’m gonna be charged. That does not seem to be the case in Florida, maybe?

          Your right of self-defense travels with you. There is no duty to retreat under Texas law.

          If you think I’m a wingnut then you are brain damaged. Lay off the Koolaid.

        • ralphb says:

          Your expertise on Texas law is underwhelming. Of course my right of self defense travels with me. But it stops short of allowing me to kill someone without the real fear for my own life.

          If I the aggressor and chase you into the street and you turn on me, unarmed, I have no legal right to shoot you in self defense.

        • myiq2xu says:

          If I the aggressor and chase you into the street and you turn on me, unarmed, I have no legal right to shoot you in self defense.

          So if the 70 year old widow next door to me (our neighborhood watch captain) follows someone she thinks is suspicious, that person can start beating her and she can’t defend herself? Is she allowed to use Marquis de Queensberry rules or is she just a punching bag?

          There is no evidence that Zimmerman attacked Trayvon. You’re not allowed to beat up someone that is following you on public streets and sidewalks.

          Your expertise on Texas law is underwhelming.

          So are your reasoning skills

        • ralphb says:

          Are you deliberately obtuse or just incapable of sticking to the point at hand?

          Let’s use a real life example of an elementary school principal in Richardson, TX with a concealed carry permit. He was in the ATM lane at a bank and, after making a withdrawal, sat there to count his money. The man behind him honked his horn so the principal flipped him the bird. Honker didn’t like that and got out of his car and proceeded to the principal’s car while cursing at him. When he arrived, the principal shot him through the window and he died.

          Dude is no longer a school principal. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to a nice long stay in Huntsville. Was that fair? I think so.

          • myiq2xu says:

            So do I.

            But if Honker dragged Principal out of his car and got on top of him and started beating him, and after yelling in vain for help, Principal pulled out his lawfully concealed pistol and capped Honker, I’d be inclined to rule differently.

            Self defense is fact-specific.

        • ralphb says:

          Oh, bite me in the ass you cheap shithead!

        • WMCB says:

          Did the principal have wounds on the back of his head, a busted up nose, grass stains on his back, and a witness who saw him pinned to the ground getting his face beat in? Because if he did, then that case might look a little different.

        • WMCB says:

          You keep assuming that Z was “the aggressor”, but there is so far no evidence of that. A neighborhood watch guy following a person in the dark to see what he is doing is not aggression. It may be ill-advised in some cases, but it’s not aggression. Neighborhood watch people do that every day. Z had done it many, many times, and had never just lost his shit and attacked someone.

          There is no evidence of aggression on Z’s part. Nor is there ANY evidence that the man was racist in the slightest. No one here is claiming to know exactly what happened, or proclaiming that Z did absolutely nothing wrong, or used the best judgement. What we are saying is that the bandwagon to immediately brand him some paranoid crazed psycho racist out to gun down some random black kid in cold blood is bullshit. Posting bounties for his head, dead or alive, is fucking reprehensible.

          There is evidence on both sides, here, and I seriously doubt that ALL of the evidence has even come out yet. I find it interesting that you are getting so very upset with myiq for merely saying “We don’t know yet – wait and see and stop with the lynch mob mentality”. What, exactly, is wrong with that stance?

        • DandyTiger says:

          Apparently the Obama reelection operation for the gullible (OWS) requires enough kool-aid to render its faithful unable to think their way out of a wet paper bag. They’re ultra religious and don’t even know it. Facts have no impact as we see here.

          Time to enact troll dunking rule #594

      • votermom says:

        When are you gonna snap out of it?

  7. myiq2xu says:

    Is it just me or is Pauly Shore the idiot love-child of Richard Simmons?

  8. votermom says:

    Mitt is not the only Etch A sketch.


    President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.
    President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…
    President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.
    President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.

    Just reinforces my conviction that any first term president, whether it’s Crazy Rick, Flip-Flop Mitt, or Moonbase Newt, or even Hermitcrab Ron, is better than second-term “I can do what I want f- the constitution” Barack.

    As every banana republic refugee knows, the 2nd term is when the gloves come off.

  9. votermom says:

    SCOTUS 3-day hearing of Obamacare starts today.

    I am finding it hard to find a site that discusses this objectively — all I see are sites taking sides on how SCOTUS will/should decide.

    • votermom says:

      Of course Iowa Hawk already won the twitternets on this:

    • votermom says:

      Townhall has what seems to be a good summary of what is expected:


      Monday – is the fine a tax
      Tuesday – is the mandate unconstitutional Congressional overreach
      Wednesady am – Severability
      Wednesday pm – does medicare expansion violate states’ rights

      Apparently, depending on how today goes, they may decide to postpone Tuesday until 2014;

    • Lulu says:

      The oral arguments will be released at 1:00 EDT per CSPAN and will broadcast then as far as I can tell. I am a very bad girl and I am working from home today, and maybe tomorrow so I can listen to them. It appears the media will be making it as difficult as possible to follow this without their stupid spin. CSPAN at least seems to be trying to get it out there. Washington Journal was pretty good this morning with two law professors staying on point with many idiots (from both sides) calling in asking completely unrelated questions.

  10. WMCB says:

    Well, hate to say “I told you so”, but……. I told you so. Radical Islamists have won a sizable majority on the panel that will be writing Egypt’s new constitution. Also:

    there were only a few names from the revolutionary movement behind last year’s ouster of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak.

    Gee, I seem to recall saying I feared that the starry-eyed students and protestors were BEING USED, and would be tossed aside by the real players once they served their purpose. I also recall being poo-poohed and being accused of everything from anti-Muslim paranoia to making completely LUDICROUS comparisons to Iran, as this would NEVER turn out like what happened there.

    Uh huh. I fear for the women and Coptic Christians and gays and secularists of Egypt. Because it’s going to get very ugly for them.


    • votermom says:

      I remember saying the same thing and getting the response “well, that’s the price to pay for democracy”. Apparently women’s rights are worth giving up for the “greater good.”

      I bet that panel will take Justice Ginsberg’s advice and NOT follow the model of the US const.

  11. foxyladi14 says:

    got books don;t need no rights for the wimminz folks. 😦

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