Look | The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in Photos

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Friday marks the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, New York's landmark industrial disaster that killed 146 of the factory's employees — most of them young immigrant women and girls of Italian and European Jewish descent. The tragedy sparked nationwide debate on workers' rights, representation and safety.

During the first days of the shirtwaist strike, men and women carry signs that read “Strike… 30,000 Shirt Waist Makers… Higher Wages and Shorter Hours.” Demands for shorter hours, better pay, and closed shops were met with scorn by the Triangle Waist Company's owners, Max Blanck and Isaac Harris, who felt that recognizing the union and agreeing to collective bargaining would limit the owners' ability to run a profitable business as they saw fit. unknown, 1909

A police officer and others with the broken bodies of Triangle fire victims at their feet, look up in shock at workers poised to jump from the upper floors of the burning Asch Building. The anguish and gruesome deaths of workers was witnessed firsthand by many people living or walking near the corner of Greene Street and Washington Place. Others read about it in the many newspaper reports circulated during the following days and weeks, bringing the conditions of garment worker into public scrutiny as it had been during the shirtwaist strike of 1909. Brown Brothers, March 25, 1911

An officer stands at the Asch Building’s 9th floor window after the Triangle fire. Sewing machines, drive shafts, and other wreckage of the Triangle factory fire are piled in the center of the blaze-scoured room. Brown Brothers, 1911

Four women strikers wear signs that say “Picket, Ladies Tailors Strikers” as they march in the cold streets. The smallest garment shops could not withstand the idle period and negotiated concessions with the union during the first two weeks of the strike. Larger shop owners formed the Association of Waist and Dress Manufacturers of New York, countered claims of poor working conditions and low wages, resolved to operate open shops, and signed “no surrender” agreements. unknown, February 2, 1910

International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union Local 25 was formed in 1906. The leaders included shirtwaist maker, organizer, and activist Clara Lemlich, top row third from left who struggled to organize shirtwaist makers in the Triangle Waist Company and Leiserson Shirtwaist Company. unknown, ca. 1909

Women who were arrested on the picket lines and sent to Blackwell’s Island wear “Workhouse Prisoner” signs claiming their service with pride, and were cheered by other strikers and supporters. unknown, ca. 1910

Mourners carry a bunting-draped banner in the pouring rain during the six hour procession April 5, 1911 to honor victims of the Triangle fire. New York Tribune, April 5, 1911

The Asch Building was one of the new “fireproof” buildings, but the blaze on March 25th was not their first. It was also not the only unsafe building where so many young immigrant women worked six or seven days each week. unknown, 2011

Triangle Waist Company owners Isaac Harris (front row near center with hands folded) and Max Blanck (in a dark suit to the right of Harris) with a group, probably workers at one of their factories. unknown, ca. 1910

Shirtwaist workers, 85% of whom were female and between the ages of 16 and 25, cast a strongly-affirmative ballot when asked if they support a general strike. unknown, November 22, 1909

Fire fighters struggle to extinguish the burning Asch Building. Fire-quenching sprinkler systems, though proven effective, were considered too costly by many factory owners and were not installed in the Asch Building. Still the fire was quickly controlled and was essentially put out in little over half an hour. Photographer: unknown, March 25, 1911

Samuel Gompers and other political activists and labor leaders addressed Shirtwaist workers at Cooper Union November 22, 1909. Gompers noted the terrible working conditions, long hours and poor wages. He urged workers to consider the impact of a strike in light of the loss of pay when they were already financially fragile. Many wondered if women were up to the hardships a strike entails including police brutality against those on the picket lines. Brown Brothers, November 22, 1909

The flimsy fire escape ladder descended close to the building forcing those fleeing to struggle through flames and past warped iron window shutters stuck open across their path. Sections of ladder which ended two stories above the ground, twisted and collapsed under the weight of workers trying to escape the fire killing many who had chosen it as their lifeline. unknown, 1911