Remember the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

While we are busy here in Lawrence preparing for the Bread & Roses centennial, our friends in New York City are currently commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Many of the issues that are highlighted by the telling of this tragic story are echoed in the story of the Bread & Roses Strike. On March 25th, 1911 a fire broke out on the 8th floor of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company Factory on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Over 500 employees, mostly young women and many recent immigrants, worked in the factory. Workers flooded the fire escape which then collapsed dropping many to their deaths. 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. Please visit their website for more information on how to support their efforts. Similar to the Bread & Roses Centennial Committee a group of organizations has come together to commemorate the centennial of the fire. 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.