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

The business men of this country who have made and saved money should no longer be supervised, criticized, or controlled by men who have neither made nor saved it.

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State Superintendent of Banks Eugene Lamb Richards addressing the New York State Bankers’ Association.
01/31/1915 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

The only tendency toward illness comes to men who are intemperate in their habits. In every case of poisoning I have heard of, the man was an exceedingly hard drinker….Where the men are temperate in their habits I never found a case…

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Arthur S. Summers, a manufacturer of dry colors.
03/01/1912 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

[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

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