THIS WEEK IN AMERICAN HISTORY: Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire, March 25, 1911
On March 25, 1911, a raging fire erupted inside a garment factory in New York City, killing 123 young women employed as low-paid seamstresses, along with 23 men.
The fast-spreading flames engulfed the 8th and 9th floors of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in lower Manhattan in just a few minutes. 62 of the victims jumped to their deaths rather than perish from the flames.
The sensational tragedy spurred national interest concerning the rights of mostly-immigrant women workers of the New York garment industry who labored long hours six or seven days a week in cramped, dangerous conditions for about $5 weekly pay.
The building, located on the corner of Greene Street and Washington Place, has been used by NYU as a library and classrooms since 1916, and was donated to the university in 1929 and renamed the Brown Building. In 2002, the building was incorporated into the Silver Center for Arts and Science, and landmarked in 2003.