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Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Centennial

Friday, March 25, 2011 is the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Factory Fire, the infamous fire that took the lives of 146 workers, mostly young immigrant women, at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory at Washington Place and Greene Street. The 1911 fire ushered in new building and fire code laws and uplifted the labor movement. The building survived the fire and is an individual New York City Landmark. GVSHP is honored to be a Participating Organization of the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, a grassroots coalition of over 200 organizations organizing Centennial events.

GVSHP has also contributed to the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition’s Open Archive. Check our submission, among many others about the history surrounding the fire.

In 2003, the Brown Building (the current name of the building in which the Triangle Fire took place) was designated a New York City Landmark. GVSHP testified in favor of landmarking for the building, which lies just outside the eastern boundary of the Greenwich Village Historic District.

Factory Factoids

To finance the building of the Asch building, Joseph J. Asch was forced to borrow money against his large holdings on Washington Square North, including Henry James’ birthplace.

The Department of Buildings (DOB) objected to the original building plans because they did not include sufficient fire egresses for such a large building, but eventually backed down after arguing with the contractor.

There had been no fire drills prior to the fire.

The drop ladder at the bottom of the fire escape had never been installed, which led to women piling onto the fire escape, which could not support so much weight. It buckled and collapsed from the weight and heat.

After the fire, people were shocked by how little damage was done to the exterior of the building which, after its original construction, had been dubbed “fire proof.”

Ironically, during World War II, the eighth floor was used to train nurses.

Firefighters putting out the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.

To learn more about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Centennial, contact us.

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