Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Overview (02:39)
New York City immigrants faced brutal working conditions; factories had few safety regulations. A Manhattan industrial disaster killed 146 women and girls. One of Suzanne Pred Bass' great-aunts died and the other survived.
Sweatshop Labor and Unionizing (02:04)
Companies crowded hundreds of workers together under one roof; manufacturing competition worsened labor conditions. Triangle owners Max Blanck and Isaac Harris became wealthy on the new shirtwaist fashion. The ILGWU began organizing strikes in 1909.
1909 General Strike (01:53)
Twenty thousand immigrant women marched for improved labor conditions, including Triangle Shirtwaist employees. Hear accounts of clashes with police. Blanck and Harris triumphed and workers returned without union recognition.
American Dream (03:02)
When the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire broke out, workers panicked. There had been no fire drills and the Asch Building lacked safety features. Max Blanck's granddaughter shares his immigration story. He and Harris were driven to financial success and became wealthy.
Triangle Shirtwaist Tragedy Unfolds (02:20)
Harris and Blanck were at work on the 10th floor when the fire started on the 8th. Together with Blanck's daughters and office workers, they escaped via the roof. Fire fighters arrived too late for many workers. A switchboard failure cost 9th floor workers precious minutes.
Desperate Escape Attempts (03:04)
Vincent Maltese lost his grandmother and two great aunts in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. They worked on the 9th floor under crowded conditions. Exits became blocked and employees tried to take elevators. An elevator operator risked his life to save over 100 people.
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Heroine (02:02)
Fire ladders were too short to reach 9th floor workers trapped on the window ledge. Supervisor Fanny Lansner gave her life helping employees escape via elevator. Trapped workers began jumping to their death.
9th Floor Victims (02:45)
More than 90 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory workers jumped to their deaths. Descendants tell their stories.
Workplace Safety Issues (01:50)
New York Fire Chief Edward Croker's pleas for improved fire safety were ignored. The Asch Building lacked fire escapes and sprinklers that would have saved lives in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Without regulations, owners cut corners.
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Aftermath (03:13)
As family members gathered at Washington Place, fire fighters began searching the Asch Building and removing bodies. A woman tells the story of her great-uncle's death and his fiancé’s reaction. Many burned bodies were difficult to identify.
Lower East Side Tragedy (02:37)
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire sent shock waves through the immigrant community. The city buried seven unidentified bodies in Brooklyn, to avoid organized labor activism. Unions held a symbolic protest funeral for all victims.
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Responsibility (02:45)
Building inspectors, failed safety legislation, and company owners were blamed for the tragedy. Survivors said a 9th floor door was locked. Harris and Blanck were indicted on manslaughter charges, but found not guilty by an all-male jury. They continued the business with insurance payouts.
Labor Reforms (02:27)
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire pressured Tammany Hall to establish the Factory Investigating Commission. Female activists Frances Perkins, Rose Schneiderman, and Clara Lemlich participated. Workplace safety and employee rights improved.
New Deal Precursor (03:59)
The Factory Investigating Commission's findings led to the establishment of minimum wage, workplace safety standards, and retirement assistance. Labor unions commemorate the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire each year as the fight for worker's rights continues. View a dedication message and the names of victims.
Credits: Triangle: Remembering the Fire (01:11)
Credits: Triangle: Remembering the Fire
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