The Triangle Factory fire, considered the nation’s deadliest workplace fire, will reach its 100th Anniversary on 28th of March 2011 right here in the Lower East Side of New York City. The tragic death of 146 garment workers was set by a match being dropped on the floor at the Triangle Waist Company’s factory. The fire engine ladders in 1911 were only able to reach the sixth floor leaving workers trapped on the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors desperate. Many images of workers jumping out of the factory located on Greene Street were all too similar to recent memories of those who chose to escape the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 in the same way. In 1911 the New York Times reported, “The crowd yelled “Don’t jump!” but it was jump or be burned — the proof of which is found in the fact that fifty burned bodies were taken from the ninth floor alone. The victims who are now lying at the Morgue waiting for some one to identify them by a tooth or the remains of a burned shoe were mostly girls of from 16 to 23 years of age.”
A PBS special on the Triangle Factory fire was presented through letters of the victims to this fire. The special told tales of young girls who weren’t trying to make money for the club on Saturday night but money that would help support their families. This fire triggered the safe workplace and occupational safety movement. HBO and The Jewish Center are just two groups finding ways to remember the 146 victims for Triangle Waist Co. fire’s 100th year anniversary later this month.