Friday, March 25, 2016

INEZ | Mar. 25–Triangle Fire, 105th Anniversary

Site of the Triangle Fire.
March 25, 2016–The Triangle Fire occurred next door to the NYU Law School, which was then located to the east of Washington Square Park close to the center of the eastern border of the park. 

Just 18 months before, in September 1909, the 250+ teenage girls who worked at the Triangle workers went out together on strike and were joined by nearly 20,000 other workers on a strike that lasted 13 weeks. 

NYU law student Inez Milholland joined the strikers and was arrested along with them. Some companies settled, but the Triangle owners refused to make any concessions. 

One requested concession was that doors not be locked (see Joan Dash, We Will Not Be Moved: The Women's Factory Strike of 1909, Scholastic Books, 1996, p. 140). 

On March 25, a fire took the lives of 146 workers, mostly young girls, who could not exit the locked doors. Most chose to jump to their deaths from windows, or into elevator shafts, rather than wait to be burned alive. 

This fire led to new labor laws in New York State, to FDR's appointment as Labor Commissioner when he became Governor, and then to her appointment in 1933 by the incoming president, FDR, as Secretary of Labor and the first female Cabinet member in history, serving throughout the next 12 years. More on the fire.


Dash, Joan. We Will Not Be Moved: The Women's Factory Strike of 1909, Scholastic Books, 1996.

See also prior post in 2014.

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