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

I can’t see what all this talk is about. How is it wrong for the State to intervene with regard to the working conditions of people who work in the factories and mills. I don’t see what they mean. What did we set up the government for?

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Al Smith (D), future governor of New York and Factory vice chairman of the Factory Investigating Commission. Date not available.
01/01/1914 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

Such [sanitary] certificates will give a possible opportunity for an unfair person to make demands for graft on the small baker, who is always reluctant to go into the courts to force recognition of his rights. We believe either or both of these sections would have the effect of gradually reducing rather than increasing the number of small bakeries.

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J.C. Bogart, New York Flour Club (they represented over 80 percent of firms in the flour business). Only date available: 1913.
01/01/1913 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

They are not over-intelligent…They formed habits of living that they carried with them to their work, and that made it very difficult indeed to correct them.

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

In Utica no one ever bothers the factories about these things. Why are we bothered this way? No, we do not keep the names and addresses of our homeworkers. Women wanting such work come in and get it and that’s all there is about it.

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The manager of a felt shoe factory
01/01/1913 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws