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In Remembrance

Walking Past HistoryMatt HeidelbergerThe Brown Building, formerly the Asch Building, site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

Scenes from the Ceremonies

Matt Logan, Michael Natale and Tim Schreier, community contributors to The Local East Village, share their images of Friday’s ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

A Century Later, Recalling A Fire’s Toll

Triangle Shirtwaist FactoryMatt Logan A view of the Brown Building, formerly the Asch Building, site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

One hundred years ago today, on a Saturday afternoon just before closing time, a waste basket caught fire on the eighth floor of the Asch Building, between Greene Street and Washington Plaza. The fire spread soundlessly. Beneath the methodical whir of sewing machines it swept across the floor and upwards and, ultimately, caught 500 packed-in workers in a panic. Those that fled to the ninth floor stairwell found the exits shut fast. Those that packed into the elevators found that only so many could fit. And those that the fire herded to windows found the ladders too short to reach the ground.

Fifty-four jumped.

Within half an hour, 146 workers perished in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. Most of the victims were young, female immigrants, who had crossed over oceans in search of opportunity. What they found was a world that lacked adequate safety restrictions, wage requirements, and worker representation; all those things came after, when the public became galvanized by the blaze, setting the basis for legislative action and labor reform.

Roughly one out of three victims of the fire – 53 people – resided in the East Village. Every year descendants and union members alike gather at the former site of the Asch Building to recite their names along with the others as a gesture of respect and remembrance. This centennial anniversary will mark the first year that all the victim’s names are spoken. For decades, six victims of the fire were unknown until Michael Hirsch, an amateur historian, identified them earlier this year.

Now, their names will join the others after nearly a century of silence.

A Deadly Toll

This map, which lists the names and addresses of the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire who resided in the East Village, offers a stark illustration of the devastating toll that the blaze took on the neighborhood.

View 1911 Triangle Factory Fire: East Village Victims in a larger map
Map compiled by Kenan Christiansen.

Read comprehensive coverage of the anniversary of the fire in The Times.