Blazing Inferno! The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory

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And there is shouting: horrified voices, getting louder. Frances Perkins, drinking tea with friends in Washington Square, abandoned her teacup and saucer on the dining table and arrived in time to see shattered glass raining onto the…. Get The International Pack for free for your first 30 days for unlimited Smartphone and Tablet access.

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Working under lights, a police officer holds a small casket amid the wrecked bodies of Triangle fire victims. She pushed me on the other side, got hold of the handle and then she tried. The disaster led to legislation that improved factory working standards and strengthen unions, which have helped change the conditions for sweatshop workers. I told her there was a fire on the eighth floor, to tell Mr. Just then somebody on the eighth floor shouted, "Fire! Not in United States? At the urging of a young reformer named Frances Perkins, who would go on to become Secretary of Labor under Franklin Roosevelt, NFPA expanded its mission from protecting buildings to protecting the people who worked in them, and undertook efforts that would eventually result in the creation of the Building Exits Code, the precursor to the Life Safety Code.

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Looking for Blame. Within two days after the fire, city officials began announcing preliminary conclusions concerning the tragic fire. Fire Marshal William Beers stated that the fire probably began when a lighted match was thrown into either waste near oil cans or into clippings under cutting table No. Despite an announced policy of no smoking in the factory, Beers reported that fire investigators picked up many cigarette cases near the spot of the fires origin, and that many employees reported that smoking on the premises was commonplace.

Fire Chief Edward Croker told the press that doors leading into the factory workplace appeared to be locked and that his men had to chop their way through doors to get at the fire. Many pointed fingers at New York City's Building Department, blaming it for an inadequate inspection of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory. District Attorney Charles Whitman called for "an immediate and rigid" investigation to determine whether the Building Department "had complied with the law. I shall proceed against the Building Department along with the others. They are as guilty as any. Calls for justice continued to grow. Charles Slattery, rector of a church a few blocks from the fire scene, told his congregation that "It will perhaps be discovered that someone was too eager to make money out of human energy to provide the proper safeguards. People began fainting, and over fifty persons were treated. The editor of a socialist paper told the crowd that "These deaths resulted because capital begrudged the price of another fire escape.

We demand for all women the right to protect themselves. Harris and Blanck were called "the shirtwaist kings," operating the largest firm in the business.

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Editorial Reviews. Review. This is an excellent book, in that it brought about child labor laws The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory by [Cassel, Melissa]. Blazing Inferno: The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory [Melissa Cassel] on Amazon. com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Inferno is about the Triangle Shirtwaist.

They ran their factory by hiring machine operators and allocating to each about six sewing machines from among the machines on the ninth floor. The operators hired young girls and women, usually immigrants, who they would then instruct in the art of shirtwaist-making. The girls earned whatever the machine operator chose to pay them.

Overworked and underpaid, garment workers struck Triangle in the fall of Management responded by hiring prostitutes to "strike women" and thugs and plainclothes detectives "to hustle them off to court on flimsy pretexts," according to an article in Survey magazine. The strike soon spread to other shirtwaist manufacturers. By Christmas, employees had been arrested, but the public largely sided with labor. The coroner questions factory employees.

A Century After Triangle, Unions Face Uncertain Future

Two weeks after the fire, a grand jury indicted Triangle Shirtwaist owners Isaac Harris and Max Blanck on charges of manslaughter. Harris and Blanck were defended by a giant of the New York legal establishment, forty-one-year-old Max D. Crowds of angry relatives of victims filled the courtroom building. When Harris and Blanck exited from a courtroom elevator on the second day of the trial they were met by women shrieking, "Murderers!

In his opening statement, Charles Bostwick told jurors that he would prove through witnesses that the ninth floor door that might have been an escape route for victims was locked at the time of the fire.

Uncovering the History of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

More particularly, he said he would prove that the locked door caused the death of Margaret Schwartz, one of the workers killed on March Bostwick produced witnesses, many of them young Triangle employees dressed in their Sunday best. Through his witnesses Bostwick tried to establish that the fire quickly cut off escape through the Greene Street door, causing the panicked workers to turn to the Washington Place door--a door the prosecution contended was locked.

More than a dozen prosecution witnesses testified that they tried the door and were unable to open it. Katie Weiner told jurors, "I pushed it toward myself and I couldn't open it and then I pushed it outward and it wouldn't go. I was crying, 'Girls, help me! Bostwick used the testimony of Kate Gartman and Kate Alterman to prove that the locked door caused the death of Margaret Schwartz. Both had emerged with Schwartz from a ninth-floor dressing room to find the floor in flames.

Alterman offered compelling testimony of concerning Schwartz's death:. I wanted to go up Greene street side, but the whole door was in flames, so I went in hid myself in the toilet rooms and bent my face over the sink, and then ran to the Washington side elevator, but there was a big crowd and I couldn't pass through there.

I noticed someone, a whole crowd around the door, and I saw the Bernstein, the manager's brother trying to open the door, and there was Margaret near him. Bernstein tried the door, he couldn't open it and then Margaret began to open the door. I take her on one side I pushed her on the side and I said, "Wait, I will open that door.


She pushed me on the other side, got hold of the handle and then she tried. And then I saw her bending down on her knees, and her hair was loose, and the trail of her dress was a little far from her, and then a big smoke came and I couldn't see.

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I just know it was Margaret, and I said, "Margaret," and she didn't reply. I left Margaret, I turned my head on the side, and I noticed the trail of her dress and the ends of her hair begin to burn. In his cross-examination of Alterman, Max Steuer settled on an unusual approach. He asked Alterman to repeat he account of Margaret Schwartz's death again and again. Each time, the words Alterman used were very similar, but not identical. Steuer hoped that the repetition of phrases e. In redirect, Bostwick asked his witness why she used similar language each time she was asked to describe Schwartz's death.

Alterman replied, "Because he asked me the very same story over and over, and I tried to tell him the same thing, because he asked me the same thing over and over.

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The defense presented witnesses designed to show that the ninth floor deaths resulted from fire blocking the Washington Place stairwell, even though the door was actually open. Various salesmen, shipping clerks, watchmen, painters, and other building engineers told of their passage through the disputed ninth floor door--though, of course, none had attempted to exit through the door at the time of the fire.

Louis Brown said a key was "all the time in the lock. Levantini was the prosecution's key witness, telling jurors that she turned the key in the door and opened it only to find "flames and smoke" that made her "turn in and run to the elevators. Bostwick contended Levantini "lied on the stand. On December 27, Judge Crain read to the jury the text of Article 6, Section 80, of New York's Labor Law: "All doors leading in or to any such factory shall be so constructed as to open outwardly where practicable, and shall not be locked, bolted, or fastened during working hours.