Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
Artist Louise Millmann
Last week marked the 100th anniversary of one of the worst industrial accidents in US history: The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. The fire, exacerbated by cramped working conditions and locked fire exits, led to the death of 146 workers who leapt to their deaths to escape the flames. Most who died were young women, recent immigrants to our country searching for the American Dream. It took this type of tragedy for factory reform. Alfred E. Smith became a champion for workplace safety and regulation and unions were formed.
To honor the event, there was a rally last Friday on the Lower East Side in NYC. Artist Louise Millmann, dressed in period clothing, walked in the parade, stunning the onlookers who believed they had seen a ghost. Millmann described the experience as quite emotional, a poignant reminder of the sensless loss of life and the continuted need for safe workplaces everywhere.