Normally, there is a gathering commemorating the disaster, but the lock-down in New York City has meant that there will be no gathering to remember the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire this year:
“Today, we mark the 109th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, a catastrophic event in which 146 workers, mostly young immigrant women, were killed as a direct result of abhorrent working conditions and woefully insufficient workplace safety standards. The loss of life was both tragic and avoidable, and sent shockwaves through our city and nation. Outraged Americans demanded that these workers’ deaths not be in vain, and the public outcry that followed brought a renewed sense of urgency to the labor movement and to the fight for stronger workplace protections and fire safety laws,”
—Workers United Secretary-Treasurer Edgar Romney & New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO President Vincent Alvarez, Mar 25, 2020
Normally, we gather at the site of the blaze to mark the anniversary of the Triangle Fire. We assemble at the corner of Washington and Greene Streets to watch the fire truck ladder rise to the 6th floor, which was as far as it could reach in 1911, as workers burned alive or leapt to their deaths from the factory floors above. This year, we express our solidarity by marking the occasion at home, each doing our part to flatten the wave of infections that threatens to overwhelm or city and our country. Even as we stand apart, we stand together.
146 people died, mostly young women working at the factory.
The doors were locked so they could not get out, and the fire truck ladders could not reach their floors, and many of them jumped to their deaths.