On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, which made a style of popular women’s blouse, caught fire.
The employees had little chance of escaping the flames. The stairwells were locked, the fire escape buckled, and the elevator had a carrying capacity of 15. A total of 146 of the company’s 500 employees, most of them Jewish women, died either from the flames, the smoke, or from fatal injuries suffered after jumping in an attempt to escape.
This single incident is responsible for most of the first worker and fire safety standards put in place by the United States government. The fire was New York City’s deadliest workplace incident until the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.