A century ago: NYC’s deadliest workplace accident

On March 25, 1911, 148 people died at work – trapped by a fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City.

“When a tossed match or lit cigarette ignited a fire on the eighth floor of the building, flames spread quickly,” reads the PBS website.

“Blanck and Harris [the employers] received warning by phone and escaped, but the 240 workers on the ninth floor continued stitching, oblivious to the flames gathering force on the floor below.”

This tragedy “forever changed the relationship between labor and industry in the United States. Within three years, more than 36 new state laws had passed regulating fire safety and the quality of workplace conditions.”

I’ve been watching YouTube videos with interviews of people who were there. The majority were women, nearly half were teenagers, and many were new immigrants.Those workers were trying to support families for a low wage from an employer who locked them in to prevent theft and left them to die. Let’s remember them.

You can watch the documentary online at the PBS website.


3 thoughts on “A century ago: NYC’s deadliest workplace accident

  1. Leslie Robinson

    Thanks for this timely post on the eve of the 100th anniversary of this terrible, but ultimately influential, incident in labour history.

    I’ve shared the link on Facebook.


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