Today in History: The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Funeral Procession
Today marks the 101st anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire funeral procession. Over 120,000 people marched on April 5th, 1911, in a protest organized by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. This massive funeral procession was to honor the victims of the fire that enveloped this garment factory in lower Manhattan on March 25th of the same year.
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire claimed the lives of 146 young immigrant workers, 129 of which were women aged 16 to 23. However, their young deaths were not in vain. While the cause of the fire is not known (some attribute it to cigarettes, or sewing machines), it was made worse by a managerial practice of locking the doors and stairwells to prevent the workers from taking unauthorized breaks. The fire eventually led to legislation in New York to improve factory safety standards.
If you live in New York and you would like to visit the site of the fire today, head down to 23-29 Washington Place, now a part of NYU. If you'd like more information on this historic event, Cornell University has put together this online resource.