The Triangle Shirt Waist Company was located one block east of Washington Square Park. There were over 500 employees — most were young women, most were recent immigrants. March 25, 1911 a fire broke out on the 8th floor. The workers ran to the fire escape. It collapsed, dropping them to their death. On the 9th floor a critical exit was locked. People on the street watched as the workers began to jump out the windows. Fire trucks arrived but their ladders only reached the 6th floor. The elevators ran as long as they could, workers pressed into the cars; some tumbled down the elevator shaft.
In the end 146 people died. There was a trial but the owners, long known for their anti-union activities, got off. The fire became a rallying cry for the international labor movement. Many of our fire safety laws were created in response to this tragic event.
In concert with individuals and organizations across the country, the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition is spearheading the creation of commemorative events activism, education, art for the March 2011 Centennial. The Coalition supports:
- The creation of innovative participatory activities, to build the muscles of active social engagement.
- New collaborations between communities
- Establishing a permanent memorial