• The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

    The late 1800s to early 1900s were a time of hope and optimism as the middle class enjoyed greater prosperity and comfort than ever before. Yet, immigrant factory workers in New York City worked in dismal conditions just blocks from the mansions of wealthy factory owners, never taking part in the fruits of success.

    Strikes were common as workers tried to gain better working conditions and higher pay, but employers were slow to respond. Safe conditions came at a high price – the lives of 146 factory workers who died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.

    The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

    Fun Facts

    • Russian immigrants, Isaac Harris and Max Blanck, arrived in America with little money, but quickly prospered. Within 20 years, they owned one of the most well-known clothing factories in New York City, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.
    • Here, factory workers made clothing, working 13 hour days for a paltry 13 cents per hour. Most of the workers were teenage girls, immigrants from Italy and Russia.
    • In 1910, the workers at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory joined forces with hundreds of small factories, striking for better work conditions and higher pay. This was the largest strike of women workers the country had seen.
    • The owners, Harris and Blanck, struck back, hiring policemen to beat the women. Anne Morgan, daughter of banker, J.P. Morgan, was appalled by their treatment and organized protests with other wealthy New York women. The owners eventually agreed to shorter hours and better pay, but they did not improve working conditions.
    • On March 25, 1911, a fire started on the eigth floor of the factory. The owners escaped, but the workers on the ninth floor were unaware of the fire and kept working until smoke began billowing into their workspace.
    • A few workers were able to reach an elevator. Some of the workers climbed onto a fire escape, which crumpled under their weight, falling 100 feet to the ground below. The only other door was locked. As the fire engulfed the workroom, factory workers jumped out the windows to their deaths.
    • Of the 240 workers on the ninth floor, 146 perished. Over half of them were teenagers.

    Vocabulary

    1. Appalled: disgusted, shocked
    2. Engulf: to completely enfold, surround, or consume
    3. Shirtwaist: a button-down women’s shirt that became fashionable in the early 20th century

    Questions and Answers

    Question: What happened to the factories after the fire?

    Answer: After the fire, the public demanded safer factory conditions. The state of New York was among the first to pass legislation requiring that factory owners follow safety guidelines.

    Learn More

    Visit PBS to learn more about the Triangle Factory Fire.

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Declan, Tobin. " Facts About The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire - March 25th 1911 ." American History for Kids, Apr 2022. Web. 23 Apr 2022. < https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/triangle-shirtwaist-factory-fire/ >.

APA Style Citation

Tobin, Declan. (2022). Facts About The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire - March 25th 1911. American History for Kids. Retrieved from https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/triangle-shirtwaist-factory-fire/

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