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

[The New York Herald noted that the owners claimed the order amounted to] a confiscation of property…

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New York Herald. Only date available: March, 1911.
03/01/2011 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

If you pass this bill, it will not be ten years certainly; I believe it will not be five years until practically every cellar bakery in New York city will be out of business.

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Frank P. Hill, representative of the New York Retail Bakers’ Association. Only date available: 1913.
01/01/1913 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

You must relieve [New York's] real estate from the terrible yolk of oppression which has been throttling it for some years past…

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Charles F. Noyes, president of the Charles F. Noyes (Realty) Company, on the Factory Investigating Commission ’s new laws.
06/21/1914 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

The chief cause [of lead poisoning among color workers] used to be the careless habits of the men, in not properly washing themselves after handling the lead materials, eating their lunches with their hands covered with the stuff…

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