Triangle Factory Laws

Triangle Factory Laws

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. The FIC even tried to institute a minimum wage for New York, but political opponents stifled the policy proposal. Other accomplishments include:

Automatic sprinklers became mandatory in buildings seven stories or higher and factories of 200 or more employees.

Factory doors had to be unlocked during work hours, and they were required to swing outwards.

A building construction code requiring that new buildings include multiple enclosed fireproof stairways and fire escapes.

Employers are required to provide clean drinking water, washrooms, and toilets for their employees.

 Women could work no more than a 54 hour work week and nine hours a day.

Children ages 18 and under were banned from work that could injure their health and well-being.

Cry Wolf Quotes

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

If you eliminate further bakeshops in the cellar…the poor man is going to suffer, and we are crying now for the high cost of living. If you will wipe out the cellar bakeries, the poor man will get a smaller loaf of bread.

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Dr. Abraham Korn, president of the United Real Estate Owners’ Association. Only date available: 1913.
01/01/1913 | 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

The owners of real property are becoming terrified by the number of laws which have been enacted affecting real property in New York City…in each succeeding year there is a law passed…This compels the owner to expend…large sums of money, which…are absolutely needless and useless.

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Op-ed by George W. Olvany, special counsel to the Real Estate Board.
05/03/1914 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws