Asch Building

The Asch Buidling: the Triangle Company rented the top three floors.


What happened?

A Typical Workday

A Growing Business

Setting the Stage for the Fire



95 Years Later


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The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

What happened?

     On March 25, 1911, one of the worst fires in the history of the United States took place, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Within half an hour of its commencement, the conflagration was over and the death tally began. It would total 146 men and women. For the first time in the history of industrialization, people from all social standings were outraged; it was time for drastic reforms. New York State’s response to the fire was to form the New York State Factory Investigating Commission of which Frances Perkins was the Director of Investigations. The political galvanization provided by the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire led to major changes in labor laws, fire and safety codes, and the formation of the Department of Labor. The tide had turned; commerce would never again put the dollar before people.

    At the turn of the century, industrialization came to the big cities of our nation. For the first time in history more people worked and lived in cities than ever before. Immigrants flowed through Ellis Island and many settled in New York City’s Lower East Side, providing a readily available source of inexpensive labor. Electricity became more common which lead to the start of large factories. Many factory owners decided to locate in this area. By the 1910’s there were approximately 600 firms making shirtwaists on the Lower East Side of Manhattan with profits totaling approximately 950 million in today’s dollars. Triangle Waist Company was one of the largest (Dash 3).

Frances Perkins

Frances Perkins: Mount Holyoke Graduate, major labor advocate













Shirtwaists were the stylishly chic blouses that were the basis of day wear for women of the early 1900’s. It consisted of cotton, silk, or other fine materials.
Source: Dash, Joan. We Shall Not Be Moved.




© 2006 Maressa Bell-Deane     Contact:    Last Updated: March 24, 2009