Triangle the Fire that Changed America



This book was read for my TBR challenge list and it was a great book. Triangle the Fire that Changed America by David Von Drehle is a book that had been on my pile for a few years now, and I am glad that I took the time to read it.

If you have not heard of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory go and Google it. I can wait, do do do do (yep, that is the song from Jeopardy) Done with Google? OK. Now you know what this book is about, one of the worst fire disasters in the manufacturing world. If you did not look up what the Triangle was here you go.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory was an shop that manufactured women’s blouses for department stores. It was NOT at the time considered a sweatshop. The workers, mostly immigrant women supporting families worked 16 hour days 6 days a week for about $5 a week. In 1911 fire broke out on the 8th floor of the building, and it spread up to the 9th and 10th floors. Today that would not be a problem for firemen, but this was the time when skyscrapers were just starting to be built, and most ladder that firemen had only reached the 5th or 6th floor.

In the Triangle at the end of the work day, the owners would lock the doors on one side of the floor so that the workers had to exit out one door only. This was so they could be searched one of the owners was terrified of theft. The doors were locked, the day ended the fire broke out. In just about three minutes 146 people died. Think about that for just one minute 146 people, now out of those 146 people 123 of those were women. Some jumped, most of  them died from burns or smoke inhalation. The average age was 20 years old, most of the girls were 16-18, the eldest to die was 43, the youngest 14. All worked for the Triangle.

Now, after this happened in the way government moves safety regulations were put in place, sprinkler systems, fire escapes and others. This also gave unions a boost, as one of their big concerns at the time was safety. The fire also helped get a ban on sweatshops.

In 1911 a sweatshop was a home that people worked out of. Not an air well light place, think of our smallest room in the house, the bathroom. Now picture 6 people in there all working, pulling the meat out of nuts, making lace, or clothing. That was a sweatshop.

Read the book there are many forgotten heroes in this book, and many forgotten bad guys.


2 thoughts on “Triangle the Fire that Changed America

  1. I read about this tragedy many years ago when I read Red Emma’s autobiography. This incident is what put her on the road to lifelong anarchist activism.

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