Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

June 09, 2010

On Tuesday, March 22, the New York State Senate adopted a resolution State Senator Duane introduced commemorating the 100th anniversary of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire at 29 Washington Place in what is now New York University’s Brown Building.In the early 1900s, the 500 employees of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, the vast majority of them women, worked six days a week.  They were forced to buy their own needles and thread and were forbidden to talk.  Bathroom breaks were strictly monitored and doors were locked from the outside with no accessible escape route for the women trapped inside.  The situation became so dire that in 1909 a walkout was held by shirtwaist workers citywide to address the serious safety concerns.  Triangle management refused to make any concessions.Two years later, on March 25, 1911 a fire broke out in a scrape bin within the factory.  Since there was no alarm system in place, the workers were unaware of the fire until it was too late. Hundreds of workers were left with no choice but to leap from the 9th and 10th floor windows.This horrific tragedy shocked the nation and in its wake the start of the progressive labor movement began which created child labor laws, strict employee safety regulations, 40 hour work weeks, collective bargaining rights and much more.You may view the comments Senator made on the floor of the Senate regarding this tragic event and its historic implications above.