Nearly 145 young women died horribly on March 25, 1911, in an 8th floor fire that destroyed the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. in New York City. Most of them died jumping down an elevator shaft or to the street below.
|The fire escape|
The grisly details are pretty well known. Not the least of them is that one of the two possible escape route stairwells was locked “to prevent employee theft” and that the exterior fire escape was cheaply built and couldn’t support the weight of more than a few women at a time. The owners had refused to install sprinklers.
History.com notes that New York City firemen had ladder trucks that only reached to the 7th floor, and their safety nets “were not strong enough to catch the women, who were jumping three at a time.”
Policemen and other witnesses reported the macabre staccato of bodies repeatedly thudding onto the sidewalk in downtown Manhattan.
Max Blanck and Isaac Harris owned the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. In the nine years preceding the 1911 fire, sweatshop operations owned by Blanck and Harris burned four times, and each time the two men collected on substantial fire insurance policies.
More than a century later, a disgusting element of the tragedy is that the company’s culpable owners were charged with manslaughter and tried, but they walked away without any penalty.
Anything sounding familiar here?
Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.