Tour Locations | INFINITE CITY #4: Riots, Disasters and Bachelor Clubs
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire part 1 of 2
Stop here and turn to the building to your right.
Look up to the ninth floor.
You’re looking at the site of one of the deadliest disasters in American history.
In 1911 this building housed a clothing factory on its ninth floor. Inside were seven hundred workers, mostly women, mostly immigrants, mostly poor. Their bags were searched after every shift to prevent theft and the doors were locked to prevent them from sneaking in and out.
All the pieces were in place for tragedy.
No one knew how the fire started. When it began, the workers rushed to the locked doors and found no escape. Trapped inside, they were consumed by flames and suffocated by smoke. Many jumped to their deaths.
When the firemen arrived, their ladders only reached to the seventh floor. The fire was two floors above them. The falling bodies complicated their work.
A man walking by ran inside and took charge of the abandoned elevator. Five times he ran the elevator car to the ninth floor, bringing down thirty women each trip. He only stopped when falling bodies clogged the elevator shaft and it could no longer function.
The fire was all over within an hour. 146 people died on that day. The oldest was 23 years old. The youngest was 14.
The factory owners were acquitted on all charges and today university students today take classes in this building.
Let's continue. Keep walking to the end of the block.