Friday, March 25, 2011, marked the 100 year anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. The Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, among countless other groups, had arranged events all weekend to commemorate this horrific event.
The lineup kicked off with the Workers United Centennial Commemoration, held on Washington Place and Greene Street outside of the building where 146 young women lost their lives. Speakers at this moving event included: U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Senator Charles Schumer, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The ceremony was led by Bruce Raynor, president of Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union that represents garment and textile workers. Among those in the crowd of over a thousand were former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, countless union employees, and families of the victims. This was the first time that all 146 names of those who died that day were known. They were read at the ceremony.
On Sunday, March 27, GVSHP, along with the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy, led a walking tour in honor of the anniversary. Elissa Sampson and Barry Feldman of the Conservancy were the guides and made stops at thehomes of the victims as well as sites associated with union and labor reform.
Just because the day is over does not mean that the commemoration is over. This disaster led to the galvanization of unions, laws protecting workers’ rights and requiring building safety, and a change in fire safety forever. Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition has created an online Open Archive featuring various community contributions, including one from GVSHP. We have also created a page on our website that pays tribute to the Fire. The Kheel Center at Cornell University has put up an amazing online collection, too.