Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire – New York, New York - Atlas Obscura
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Manhattan, New York

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

Burn a bit of New York history into your memory. 

If you were standing on the northwest corner of Washington Place and Greene Street on March 25, just over a century ago, at 4:45 p.m., you would have looked up to see women, mostly, engulfed in flames and hurling themselves from the top floors of a building.

In 1911, 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 endured after hitting the ground while jumping to escape.

This single incident is responsible for most of the first worker and fire safety standards put in place in the United States government. The fire was the city’s deadliest workplace incident until the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Know Before You Go

It's accessible from N and R trains at 8th Street Station. The building is currently part of NYU and houses the chemistry labs. There is a plaque on the building and a commemoration ceremony held annually on the infamous date.

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