Learning Lessons from 100 Years Ago: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of March 1911

One hundred years ago, on March 25, 1911, a fire quickly spread through the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City. 146 people died that day. 71 people were injured. 

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory was a garment factory that made blouses (a shirtwaist was a type of blouse). The factory was located on the eighth through tenth floors of the building. The factory workers had little chance for survival because doors were regularly LOCKED by the manager to prevent theft.
 
Doors were locked that day. When the fire broke out, people desperately tried to squeeze into elevators. Elevator cables broke. The fire escape broke. Fire ladders wouldn't reach high enough. Their nets broke as they tried to catch people. People were forced to jump from the building to their death as the heat of the flames burned their backs. 
 
It's heartbreaking that people who came to America filled with hope for the American Dream had to work in miserable conditions, being locked in like criminals, then get killed at the very factory they had helped to support. Where would that factory have been without the help of all those people who worked so hard every day? Without them, there would have been no profits. 
 
One hundred years later, it's time to revisit the lessons that were learned from the fire that killed 146 people. Laws were eventually changed so that employees could no longer be locked into their work place. People began to understand why it was important to have laws to protect employees. 
 
"The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again." - George Santayana
 
There are many lessons to be learned from the fire. This video does a better job of telling the story than I do. Thank you to the people who created it, and thank you to    for posting it on YouTube. 
 
You can learn more about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire here: http://www.historybuff.com/library/refshirtwaist.html
Cornell University has information on the fire and the hisrory of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory also, including interviews of witnesses: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/trianglefire/
The American Society of Safety Engineers was founded as a result of this fire: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Society_of_Safety_Engineers
The building where the fire occurred did survive the fire. It is now part of NYU, known as the Brown Building: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_Building_(Manhattan)
 
 
 
In memory of the 146 people who lost their lives that day, may we take time to remember them on March 25, 2011 at 4:40 pm Eastern time - exactly one hundred years from when the fire occurred. The youngest who died were only 14 years old. The oldest was only 43.
May they all rest in peace: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/trianglefire/victimsWitnesses/victimsList.html