107 Years Later: The Catastrophic Sweatshop Fire That Changed NYC, and the Nation, Forever

It's been 107 years since a catastrophic inferno at a Greenwich Village garment sweatshop rocked the city and changed labor laws and building codes in the U.S. forever.

24 photos
1/24
George Grantham Bain Collection/Library of Congress
2/24
Lewis Hine/Kheel Center and Archives/Cornell University Library
An Italian immigrant woman carrying a bundle of clothes in Manhattan in 1910. Many young women from Italy worked in New York's garment industry, including at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.
3/24
Lewis Hine/Kheel Center and Archives/Cornell University Library
A typical garment sweatshop circa the early 1900s. Many of the shops didn't have fire escapes or adequate exits, among other dangerous safety issues. Employees would often work more than 50 hours a week without overtime pay.
4/24
George Grantham Bain Collection/Library of Congress
The Asch Building (now the Brown Building), where the Triangle Shirtwaist Company was located, in March 1911.
5/24
Library of Congress
A photo of the fire published in The New York World newspaper and other publications on March 26, 1911, shows firefighters and bystanders powerless below the conflagration.
6/24
Kheel Center and Archives/Cornell University Library
Firefighters battle the blaze at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory on the late afternoon of March 25, 1911.
7/24
George Grantham Bain Collection/Library of Congress
Horse-drawn fire engines head to the Triangle Shirtwaist Company inferno as word spread.
8/24
George Grantham Bain Collection/Library of Congress
Firemen stand outside after searching for bodies at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company.
9/24
The Pensacola Journal/Library of Congress
Police take down descriptions of the dead.
10/24
George Grantham Bain Collection/Library of Congress
A crowd of people outside the pier morgue, where bodies were held on March 26, 1911, a day after the inferno.
11/24
George Grantham Bain Collection/Library of Congress
Crowds of people outside the pier morgue on March 26, 1911.
12/24
Library of Congress
The sweatshop fire was one of the biggest news stories in New York history. Its ramifications were felt across the city, state and nation for decades.
13/24
Library of Congress
The front page of the newspaper, Il progresso Italo-Americano, after the tragedy. It includes a list of the Italian-American victims, a drawing of a victim, and a photograph by police. Many of the victims were young Italian immigrant women.
14/24
Brown Brothers/New York Public Library
Published images show the destruction left behind in the factory after the fire quickly spread, trapping dozens of people inside.
15/24
Brown Brothers/New York Public Library
The garments in the factory accelerated the flames. The smoke was so heavy it could be seen all around Manhattan.
16/24
Brown Brothers/New York Public Library
The Asch Building's only fire escape was destroyed by fleeing workers and by the intensity of the flames pouring out windows.
17/24
George Grantham Bain Collection/Library of Congress
A crowd gathers at Washington Square a day later, on March 26, 1911. The square is just a block away from the site of the factory.
18/24
Wurt Bros/Museum of the City of New York
The inside of the Asch Building on March 30, 1911, less than a week after it was gutted by the fire.
19/24
Wurt Bros/Museum of the City of New York
The inside of the Asch Building on March 30, 1911, less than a week after it was gutted by the fire.
20/24
US National Archives & Records
A demonstration of protest and mourning held on April 5, 1911, for victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.
21/24
George Grantham Bain Collection/Library of Congress
A trade union procession in April 1911 in memory of the fire victims.
22/24
George Grantham Bain Collection/Library of Congress
The trade union procession near Washington Square in April 1911.
23/24
George Grantham Bain Collection/Library of Congress
The trade union May Day parade passes the corner of 13th and University Place on May 2, 1911, less than two months after the tragedy. The parade paid tribute to the victims of the fire. One sign in Yiddish reads "146" for the number of people killed — 123 women and 23 men.
24/24
Edmund Vincent Gillon/Museum of the City of New York
The Brown Building (formerly the Asch Building) in 1975. The building still stands at Washington Place and Greene Street, a block away from Washington Square. It belongs to New York University.
Contact Us