2013-04-03 / Features

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Remembered In Pictures


Images of America: The New York City Triangle Factory Fire from Arcadia Publishing. Images of America: The New York City Triangle Factory Fire from Arcadia Publishing. Last month was Women’s History Month. Around the country, the many contributions and accomplishments made by women from both past and present were celebrated.

March 25 marked the 102nd anniversary of a paramount moment in women’s history, which, unfortunately, is not a joyous one. On Mar. 25, 1911, flames rapidly consumed everything within the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory, killing 146 workers. The victims, mostly young Jewish and Italian immigrant women, died needlessly due to unsafe working conditions, such as locked or blocked doors, narrow stairways, faulty fire escapes, and a lack of sprinklers. Until Sept. 11, 2001, the Triangle fire was the deadliest workplace disaster in New York City history. Mass grief and outrage spread from New York’s Lower East Side across the country. Garment union membership swelled, and New York politics shifted dramatically toward reform, paving the way for the New Deal and, ultimately, the workplace standards expected today.

Written by Leigh Benin, Rob Linne, Adrienne Sosin, and Joel Sosinsky, The New York City Triangle Factory Fire is illustrated with more than 200 images that tell the story of the fire and its aftermath in graphic detail. The book, part of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series, does an excellent job in honoring the victims’ sacrifice and serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for the dignity of all working people. Most of the victims are buried in cemeteries throughout Queens including Calvary and Mount Zion. And former state Senator Serphin Maltese lost his grandmother, Catherine Maltese, in the fire.

Benin, Linne, Sosin and Sosinsky are cofounders of the Education and Labor Collaborative, an organization dedicated to teaching youth about the hidden labor heritage of the United States. The authors have worked closely with Workers United, which is the successor union to the historic International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), and HBO Documentary Films in researching this important history.

The New York City Triangle Factory Fire, 127 pages, $21.99, is available through arcadiapublishing.com, amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

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