Remembering the Triangle Factory Fire, 100 years later


Reporting, Investigation & Trial

  • “Scenes Showing Where 150 Perished in a ‘Fireproof’ Firetrap.” The March 27, 1911 New York Evening Journal revealed, from a safe distance, the horrifying results of the explosion of fire and faulty safety measures.
  • “Scenes of Death and Sorrow at the Great New York Fire Disaster” The March 27, 1911 New York Evening Journal informed readers who did not make their way to the Asch Building, about the fire's toll.
  • “Fire Trap Victims Buried. Draft New Law to Save Shop Workers.” The March 28, 1911 New York Evening Journal cover stories told the horrifying experiences of survivors and witnesses, and asked who was responsible for the catastrophe and what would be done.
  • “Who is responsible? Who is responsible for the murders of one hundred and forty-five young girls and men in the “fire proof” fire trap? On whose head rests the blame for the inadequate, antiquated, criminal stairs and single fire escape, made possible because the building was classed as “fireproof”? These dead girls cry aloud, not for revenge, but for justice. Their flame-racked bodies demand protection for the thousands of sister toilers who have not yet been sacrificed to fire. Their silent lips call, ‘Who is responsible?’” Detail of March 28, 1911 New York Evening Journal editorial cartoon.
  • “How Girls Were Trapped at Every Turn, and Some Principals in the Tragedy.” The March 28, 1911 New York Evening Journal reveals the locked door; the blocked fire escape; Sarah Commerstein [Cammestein], a sewing machine operator who jumped on top of the elevator to escape and later testified about her experiences; Joseph Zitto [Zito], an elevator operator; Anna Cochran, who worked to oust Superintendent Miller of the Building Department; and Mary Goldstein, missing after the fire, who may have died in the blaze.
  • “In compliance with law? The fire escape that ends in midair must be abolished.” A New York Tribune editorial cartoon depicts women falling from a collapsing fire escape surrounded by smoke and flames while those above them look on.
  • “The horrors of jumping.” An editorial cartoon depicts women leaning out windows, jumping and falling from the burning Asch Building, framed by dollar signs.
  • “This Is One of a Hundred Murdered. Is any one to be punished for this?” The editorial cartoon shows a woman’s body on the sidewalk surrounded by smoldering fragments with a sign nearby that reads “Operators Wanted. Inquire Ninth Floor.”
  • In an editorial cartoon, a skeleton surrounded by smoke and flames rises from the burning Asch Building and considers the horrifying events below.
  • In an editorial cartoon, a man wearing clothing made of money leans against the factory door which is locked with a dollar sign key, while women die in smoke and flames on the other side of the door.
  • “The Locked Door!” An editorial cartoon shows women surrounded in smoke and flames pounding their fists on the locked factory door.
  • In an editorial cartoon, a spotlight shines on a shrouded body being lowered from the Asch Building after the Triangle fire.
  • “How Soon Will They Be All Forgotten?” In an editorial cartoon, a grieving woman kneels to place flowers on a new grave.
  • “Inspector Of Buildings! Record fire for New York, 145 lives lost!!!! Building Fire Proof, Only Fire Escape Collapses. O.K. Inspector.” An editorial cartoon shows a skeletal building inspector with a grim smile approving conditions at the Asch Building.
  • “This lock, with the bolt shot, was found after the fire, in the debris about the ninth-floor door, through which more than a hundred girls attempted vainly to escape. The locking of this door was one of the charges on which Max Blanck and Isaac Harris were indicted for manslaughter.”
  • Some of the Asch Building's collapsed fire escape ladders and balconies blocked by window shutters.
  • “The Worthless Fire Escape and the Death Trap Below It. Close view of the broken fire escape that led many to death by…” “The fatal pit beneath the fire escape from which twenty five bodies were taken…” Photographs of the Asch Building’s exterior after the Triangle fire, with letters locating noteworthy elements.
  • The twisted fire escape which collapsed and broke away from the Asch Building during the Triangle fire.
  • Composite of Triangle fire editorial cartoons from a variety of newspapers.
  • At closing time workers were forced to leave by a single Greene Street exit where their coats and bags were checked for stolen goods. During the fire, desperate workers died trying to escape through exit doors which could not be freed and pulled inward toward the massed, frightened workers. The spiral stairways, mobbed with fleeing workers, narrowed at each landing restricting the number of people who could safely stand on the stair and causing many to lose their footing and fall on those below.
  • The check and contract offered by Harris and Blank, proprietors of the Triangle Waist Company, for a half page advertisement in The Call. Contract signed in the Triangle Waist Company’s name for a half-page in any Sunday issue of the Call, the price of $250 being offered in advance. The publishers’ reservation is stated in the lower left hand corner.
  • “Mayor Gaynor, Commissioner Waldo and Chief Croker. It is now up to them for investigation.” Hand tinted lantern slide.
  • “Investigators on roof of Asch Building – From left to right Coroner Holzhauser, J. R. Rubins, and C. F. Bostwick.”
  • “Coroner and jury questioning employees.” Hand tinted lantern slide.
  • “Sarah Cammestine swore doors were all locked.” Sarah Cammestine escaped the burning Asch Building by jumping on top of an elevator cage. Hand tinted lantern slide.
  • Joseph Zito Elevator Boy. Performed heroic work.” Joseph Zito made repeated trips into the Asch Building until the flames shooting into the elevator shaft on the eighth floor kept him from raising the open-mesh car through it one more time. Hand tinted lantern slide.
  • “Triangle Shirt Waist Manufacturers Listening To Testimony Against Them. Max Blanck and Isaac Harris.
Sweatshop conditions in the early 1900's