According to Wikipedia, on March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers, who died either from the fire, smoke inhalation, or jumping to their deaths. Most of the victims were recent Jewish and Italian immigrant women between the ages of sixteen and twenty-three.
The oldest victim was Providenza Panno, 43. The youngest were 14-year-olds Kate Leone and “Sara” Rosaria Maltese.
Because the managers had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits – a common practice at the time to prevent theft and unauthorized breaks – many of the workers could not escape the burning building, and jumped from the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors to the streets below.
The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, which fought for better working conditions for sweatshop workers.
Unfortunately, today such industrial accidents are becoming more common, as manufacturing jobs are sent offshore from the United States to developing countries with less stringent, or in some cases, virtually no workplace safety standards.
In honor of the 102nd anniversary of the deadliest workplace accident in New York City history, the Bay Ridge Historical Society will host a talk with Adrienne Sosin and Joel Sosinsky, co-authors of the Arcadia book The New York City Triangle Factory Fire.
Sosin and Sosinsky will give a multimedia presentation including both vintage and current photographs, as well as video clips about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. They will also address its continued relevance in today’s globalized world economy.
The discussion will take place tomorrow Wednesday, March 20, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. in the Shore Hill Community Room [9000 Shore Road]. Enter on 91st Street between Colonial Road and Shore Road.