Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, 1911

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, 1911

On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City caught fire and in about half an hour killed 146 people, the majority of them young women.

Background

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory was a sweatshop housed in the top three floors of a 10-story brick building in New York City. It employed hundreds of workers, mostly young women in their teens and twenties who were Italian or Russian-Jewish immigrants.

Fire at the Factory

At about 4:45 p.m. on March 25, smoke was spotted coming from a rag bin beneath a cutting table on the eighth floor. Workers tried to put out the fire, but it spread too quickly and soon traveled to the upper floors.

Workers on the eighth floor tried to escape via the two passenger elevators and two stairwells, and many succeeded. Likewise, many of the workers on the tenth floor were able to evacuate to the roof, where they crossed via ladder to a neighboring building.

The workers on the ninth floor, however, had a much harder time evacuating. The door to one of the stairwells was locked, and the other stairwell quickly became impassable due to smoke and fire. As the fire intensified, dozens of workers began jumping out of the windows, dying upon impact on the ground below, despite the attempts of onlookers to catch them with life nets.

Though the fire department arrived quickly, their ladders only reached the sixth floor, and the fire burned too quickly for them to save many of the people trapped inside.

Aftermath

Within about half an hour, the fire was put out, but of the approximately 500 people who worked at the factory that day, 146 died—in the fire, from smoke inhalation, or from jumping to their deaths.

The tragedy proved the impetus for reform, and legislation was passed in New York and elsewhere that improved safety and fire regulations.

Learn more about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire through historical newspapers from our archives. Explore newspaper articles, headlines, images, and other primary sources below.


Articles and Clippings about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

Detailed New York newspaper account of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fireDetailed New York newspaper account of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire Sun, Mar 26, 1911 – Page 1 · The New York Times (New York, New York) · Newspapers.comNew York newspaper front page with early details and photos of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fireNew York newspaper front page with early details and photos of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire Sun, Mar 26, 1911 – Page 1 · The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Newspapers.comEyewitness accounts of the events of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911Eyewitness accounts of the events of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911 Sun, Mar 26, 1911 – 8 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.comVictims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire jump down elevator shafts to try to escapeVictims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire jump down elevator shafts to try to escape Sun, Mar 26, 1911 – Page 5 · The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Newspapers.comAccounts of victims who died from jumping out of the window to escape the factory fireAccounts of victims who died from jumping out of the window to escape the factory fire Sun, Mar 26, 1911 – Page 5 · The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Newspapers.comFactory owners Harris and Blanck tell their story of escape from the fire in March 1911Factory owners Harris and Blanck tell their story of escape from the fire in March 1911 Sun, Mar 26, 1911 – 8 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.comEarly list of dead and injured in Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fireEarly list of dead and injured in Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire Sun, Mar 26, 1911 – Page 1 · The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Newspapers.comPhoto of fire victims on sidewalk outside of Triangle Shirtwaist FactoryPhoto of fire victims on sidewalk outside of Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Sun, Mar 26, 1911 – Page 2 · The New York Times (New York, New York) · Newspapers.comPhoto showing the naming and tagging of victims of the New York Triangle Shirtwaist Factory firePhoto showing the naming and tagging of victims of the New York Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire Sun, Mar 26, 1911 – Page 5 · The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Newspapers.comPhoto of firefighters working to put out the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New YorkPhoto of firefighters working to put out the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York Mon, Mar 27, 1911 – Page 2 · The New York Times (New York, New York) · Newspapers.comPhoto of broken fire escape from Triangle Shirtwaist factory buildingPhoto of broken fire escape from Triangle Shirtwaist factory building Mon, Mar 27, 1911 – Page 1 · The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Newspapers.comPicture of the owners of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Blanck and HarrisPicture of the owners of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Blanck and Harris Wed, Dec 27, 1911 – Page 1 · The Evening World (New York, New York) · Newspapers.comSurvivors of the fire testify that the doors leading to the stairways and elevators were lockedSurvivors of the fire testify that the doors leading to the stairways and elevators were locked Wed, Mar 29, 1911 – Page 1 · Santa Ana Register (Santa Ana, California) · Newspapers.comFive victims of the New York factory fire are buried by the Ladies’ Waist and Dressmakers’ UnionFive victims of the New York factory fire are buried by the Ladies’ Waist and Dressmakers’ Union Fri, Mar 31, 1911 – 7 · Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky) · Newspapers.comInvestigators gather evidence from factory fire; suggest that a match or cigarette started the fireInvestigators gather evidence from factory fire; suggest that a match or cigarette started the fire Fri, Mar 31, 1911 – 2 · Mount Union Times (Mount Union, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comAfter the 1911 New York factory fire, article urges After the 1911 New York factory fire, article urges "inaugurating regular fire drills" Sat, Apr 1, 1911 – Page 3 · The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Newspapers.comChicago Women’s Trade Union League demands Chicago Women’s Trade Union League demands "adequate fire protection" in factories Mon, Apr 10, 1911 – 1 · Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · Newspapers.comArticle calls for fire safety and prevention after the events of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fireArticle calls for fire safety and prevention after the events of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire Thu, Jun 1, 1911 – 4 · The Butte Daily Post (Butte, Montana) · Newspapers.comConvention discusses need for firefighting improvements after Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fireConvention discusses need for firefighting improvements after Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire Fri, Sep 22, 1911 – Page 5 · Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comOwners of the factory, Isaac Harris and Max Blanck, go to trial for first degree manslaughterOwners of the factory, Isaac Harris and Max Blanck, go to trial for first degree manslaughter Sat, Dec 2, 1911 – Page 5 · The Evening Review (East Liverpool, Ohio) · Newspapers.comOwners of Triangle Shirtwaist Factory are acquitted by the juryOwners of Triangle Shirtwaist Factory are acquitted by the jury Thu, Dec 28, 1911 – Page 1 · New-York Tribune (New York, New York) · Newspapers.comEditorial places blame on the owners of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory after “justice failedEditorial places blame on the owners of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory after “justice failed" Fri, Dec 29, 1911 – 4 · Austin American-Statesman (Austin, Texas) · Newspapers.com
"Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire," Newspapers.com Topics (https://www.newspapers.com/topics/industrial-gilded-ages/triangle-shirtwaist-factory-fire/ : accessed June 18, 2019)
Topics Industrial & Gilded Ages , ,

The views and opinions expressed in these newspaper articles and clippings are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Newspapers.com or Ancestry.