Remembering the Triangle Factory Fire, 100 years later



Part One, Chapter One (excerpt), page 12

One block north [of Washington Square], at the corner of Greene Street and Waverly Place, Mrs. Lena Goldman swept the sidewalk in front of her small restaurant. It was closing time. She knew the girls who worked in the Asch building well for many of them were her customers.

Dominick Cardiane, pushing a wheelbarrow, had stopped for a moment in front of the doors of the Asch building freight elevator in the middle of the Greene Street block. He heard a sound "like a big puff," followed at once by the noise of crashing glass. A horse reared, whinnied wildly, and took off down Greene Street, the wagon behind it bouncing crazily on the cobblestones.

Reporter Shepherd, about to cross from the park into Washington Place, also heard the sound. He saw smoke issuing from an eighth-floor window of the Asch building and began to run.

See document: Eyewitness at the Triangle Fire by William Shepherd

Patrolman Meehan was talking with his superior, Lieutenant William Egan. A boy ran up to them and pointed to the Asch building. The patrolman put spurs to his horse.

Dr. Winterbottom saw people in the park running toward Washington Place. A few seconds later he dashed down the stoop carrying his black medical bag and cut across the Square toward Washington Place.

Patrolman Meehan caught up with Shepherd and passed him. For an instant there seemed to be no sound on the street except the urgent tattoo of his horse's hoofbeats as Meehan galloped by. He pulled up in front of 23 Washington Place, in the middle of the block, and jumped from the saddle.

Many had heard the muffled explosion and looked up to see the puff of smoke coming out of an eighth-floor window. James Cooper, passing by, was one of them. He saw something that looked "like a bale of dark dress goods" come out of a window.

"Some one's in there all right. He's trying to save the best cloth," a bystander said to him.

Another bundle came flying out of a window. Halfway down the wind caught it and the bundle opened.

It was not a bundle. It was the body of a girl.

Now the people seemed to draw together as they fell back from where the body had hit. Nearby horses struggled in their harnesses.

"The screams brought me running," Mrs. Goldman recalled. "I could see them falling! I could see them falling!"

Leon Stein, The Triangle Fire (New York: A Carroll & Graf/Quicksilver Book, 1962), pp. 12-14.

The Kheel Center would like to thank Mrs. Miriam Stein and Barbara Ismail for granting permission to use selections from the late Leon Stein's book.

Base of the Asch Building surrounded by people