Triangle Shirtwaist Factory

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The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire forced politicians and the public to face the consequences of inaction; changed views regarding public and state responsibility for worker’s safety and caused profound and rapid changes to occupational safety laws. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory was located at No. 23-29 Washington Place at the corner of Greene Street not far from the popular Washington Square Park. The factory was housed in the well-built ten story Asch Building and occupied the top three floors. The Triangle Shirtwaist Company was owned by Isaac Harris and Max Blanck, and produced popular collared, puffy-sleeved shirts. The company had over 600 employees, primarily teenage girls, many of whom were recent immigrants that spoke little English…show more content…
194), large crowds of onlookers gathered on the streets and were the first witnesses to the horrors to come. Before the first engines had arrived young girls had begun leaping from the ninth floor windows, crashing through glass overhangs or wires and were crushed to death on the sidewalk below. Fireman struggled to set up their vehicles and work around an increasing number of bodies filling the sidewalks and streets. Mortified crowds looked on screaming as more girls appeared at the windows of the ninth floor and one after another jumped, landing in heaps on top of each other. Despite desperate efforts to raise ladders and spread nets there was little the firefighters could do to help the terrified women that were lining the windows of the ninth floor. The longest ladders only reached the seventh and the fire nets were useless to the girls who were falling from over 100 feet above. Several of the girls jumping were already on fire, demonstrating that there was only the choice to jump or burn to death. Thousands of people continued to watch as firemen poured water on the building and entered to find even more girls. The elevator shaft was clogged with at least thirty more bodies, most burned beyond recognition; in the ninth floor workroom…show more content…
People were dead, in the most horrific of ways, on the street, in front of everyone. The people of the state and eventually the nation could no longer ignore the consequences of dismissing real dangers to others and their own responsibility to enact change in order to prevent further loss of life. The fire instilled a perhaps ashamed, but very real sense of unity within previously divided groups. According to a historian one active suffragist touted the idea that “…people deserve as much protection as property; and while some working-class persons may not have previously been recognized as worthy of protection, their tragic deaths have helped us see them as deserving” (Pool, 2012, p. 203). The creation of the New York Factory Investigating Commission initiated rapid, and effective steps towards real changes, resulting in reformation to existing labor laws, and new, safer working conditions for
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