Today’s Triangle Shirtwaist Sweatshops

April 15, 2011 | CUNY Lecture Series, Graduate Center

On March 25, 1911, a fire engulfed the Triangle Waist Company, a fabric factory in Greenwich Village, killing 146 workers, mostly young Jewish and Italian women, nearly half still in their teens. It was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of New York City. The catastrophe, and the working conditions it revealed, inflamed public opinion leading to a reform in conditions. As part of day-long conference, marking the one hundredth anniversary of the tragedy, Annelise Orleck, history professor at Dartmouth College, called attention to the safety and health concerns of today’s workers. “There are people in Bangladesh garment shops, and sweatshops in Los Angeles, making clothes under the same conditions as those 100 years ago,” says Orleck, who was part of a panel sponsored by the Gotham Center for New York City History. “As we talk about Triangle, and the humanity of these young women and men who died, let’s try to take that outrage and apply it to the present day, because we need it.”
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