Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire

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The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire was a fire that happened on March 25, 1911. The fire happened in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. This factory was on the higher floors of the Asch Building in Manhattan, New York City. The fire stopped after 20 minutes. 146 workers died.

A horse-drawn fire engine going to the burning factory
The Fire at Triangle Shirtwaist Factory March 25, 1911
The Asch Building in 2011

The company's owners, Max Blanck and Isaac Harris, survived the fire by going to the building's roof when the fire started. They were indicted on charges of first and second-degree manslaughter in mid-April. Their trial began on December 4, 1911.[1] Max Steuer was the lawyer for the defendants. He asked one of the survivors, Kate Alterman, to repeat her testimony many times. She repeated it without changing what she said. Steuer told the jury that Alterman and other witnesses had been told what to say by their lawyer. The prosecution said that Blanck and Harris knew the factory doors were locked during the fire. Detectives found that the locks were locked while people were working.[2] The defense said that the prosecution failed to prove that the owners knew that. The jury acquitted the two men of first- and second-degree manslaughter. They were found liable of wrongful death during a civil suit in 1913. In this suit, plaintiffs were given $75 per person that died in the fire. An insurance company paid Blanck and Harris about $60,000 more than the reported losses. This was about $400 per dead person. In 1913, Blanck was once again arrested for locking the door in his factory while people were working. He was fined $20. This was the smallest amount of money the fine could be.[3] Because of the lax labor laws at the time, this tragedy paved the way for the rise of factory workers safety protections and the formation of workers Unions such as the International Ladies Garment Union.

  • Max Steuer died on August 21, 1940 in Jackson, New Hamsphire.
  • Max Blanck also called Norman Max Blanc died July 10, 1942 in Califrnia.[4]
  • Isaac Harris died 1954 in California[4]

References[change | change source]

  1. Stein p. 158
  2. von Drehle, p. 220
  3. Hoenig, John M. ""The Triangle Fire of 1911"" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-02-18., History Magazine, April/May 2005.
  4. 4.0 4.1 What happened to the Triangle Factory owners..