Triangle Fire

Triangle Fire

The tragic Triangle Waist Company fire on March 25, 1911 in New York City’s Greenwich Village was a major turning point in American history. One hundred and forty-six workers, mostly teenage Jewish and Italian immigrant girls, perished after the fire broke out on Triangle Company’s sweatshop on the 8th  and 9th floors of the building. Many were locked in, a common measure to prevent theft, and the only available exit was a multi-story plummet to the pavement below. Others burned alive or were stampeded to death in the rush to escape.

After the Fire  Governor John Alden Dix (D) created the Factory Investigating Commission (FIC) and granted it powers unprecedented in New York’s history. The FIC experienced remarkable success in restricting child labor and granting women workers a reasonable workday. 

Cry Wolf Quotes

[Against the bill recommending occupancy limits depending on the number of exits provided and the [number of floors] While we are in favor of a restricted occupancy…we believe that the bill in the form proposed will work great disadvantage to our trades, requiring manufacturers almost to double their area capacity in order to employ the usual amount of people that their business demands. We respectfully submit that any such procedure would not only be of great injury to the trade, but to the state, by forcing a number of these establishments to remove their factories to other states.

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From a memorandum submitted by the Needle Trades Associations to the Factory Investigating Commission. Only date available: 1913.
01/01/1913 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

I have seen children working in factories, and I have seen them working at home and they were perfectly happy.

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Mabel A. Clark, of the W.N. Clark Company. Superintendent, vice president, and stockholder. Only date available: 1913.
01/01/1913 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

You are putting a lot of people out of business and perhaps raising the price of bread….things are getting a little bit better [without “drastic” reforms], slowly, and I am not certain whether or not that would not be a pretty drastic remedy, not against the worst ones, but against the best of that class.

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P. Tecumseh Sherman. Attorney, and previously held the position of Commissioner of the Labor Department of New York. Only date available: 1912.
01/01/1912 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

To my mind this is all wrong….The experience of the past proves conclusively that the best government is the least possible government, that the unfettered initiative of the individual is the force that makes a country great and that this initiative should never be bound...

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Laurence M. D. McGuire president of the Real Estate Board of NYC. He replaced Dowling on the Factory Investigating Commission in July of 1914. Only date available: 1915.
01/01/1915 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws