The Center for American Progress held a powerful screening of “Triangle Remembering the Fire,” a HBO production, on Friday, March 25 in Washington, DC. March 25, 2011 marked the 100th anniversary of the devastating fire that flourished through the upper three floors of the Triangle Factory in downtown Manhattan, killing 129 women and 17 men. Owned by Isaac Harris and Max Blanck the Triangle factory took advantage of the very young immigrant women who suffered from limited rights and options while entering the United States.
Unbearable working conditions included crowded rooms (the ninth floor possessing three-hundred sewing machines compiled in one space), often times so crowded there was hardly any elbow room, poor wages, and hardly any recognition for these ladies safety or well being. These women had few rights and few options, most working sixty plus hours weekly.
On the day of the fire at 4:40pm the 8th floor caught aflame (from what is thought to be a discarded cigarette), there was no plan, never even practice of a fire drill. After eighteen minutes of the fire, the last body jumped from the window ceil to her death. While some were saved from a jam packed elevator, others searched for a way to exit the flames that possessed their workplace. Unfortunately 146 people were caught in the inescapable fire. Some jumped holding hands, holding each other, while the others died in the midst of the fire. Charcoaled bodies were carried and brought down from the top three floors, later to be identified by family and friends.
The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire most definitely could have been prevented. Sprinkles and fire drills were happening in other factories, but not in the Triangle Factory. Later evidence discovered that the ninth floor exits, with three-hundred employees, had been locked. They were trapped, without any ability to rescue themselves. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory continues to show an incredible amount of relevance in our labor world today. We are continuously witnessing these same situations occurring tool throughout the world, in what is supposed to be a contemporary time of progressive labor conditions. However it is evident to see that the conditions of labor workers are still be undermined.
As well as delivering a powerful film a panel discussion followed the film. The panel featured, Heather Boushey, Senior Economist, Center for American Progress, Kirstin Downey, Author and Michael Kazin, Professor, Department of History, Georgetown University.
The Los Angeles Times shadows the tragedy of one of New York’s worst disasters: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/chatter/2011/03/the-triangle-shirtwaist-fire.html
CNN concludes with the aftermath of the Triangle Fires and the legacy it has left behind: