Friday, March 25, 2011


Today's post started out about 3-25-11, not 2011 but 1911.

Today is the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire.  You can use The Google yourself if you want, but basically the greedy factory owners locked their employees on the factory floor because they thought they would steal.  They knew it was unsafe, but they did not care.  Today US factories are much safer, but we got most of our clothing from unsafe factories in places like China or Columbia where the death of 150 workers is not news here.

From Wikepidia
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city of New York and resulted in the fourth highest loss of life from an industrial accident in U.S. history. The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers, who either died from the fire or jumped to their deaths. Most of the victims were recent Jewish and Italian immigrant women, aged sixteen to twenty-three. Many of the workers could not escape the burning building because the managers had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits. People jumped from the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, which fought for better working conditions for sweatshop workers.

Since my kids attend a politically correct school, they are leaning about this and were encouraged to go to The site on its  anniversary.  

We saw bunting hanging from the 8th story window that 146 people jumped from.  

 Some people dressed in period costumes

 A simple memorial

 A reminder that this was a Union issue

There were 146 names written in chalk in the place where they died.

To take the photos above,  I had to stand on the same pavement where many died "Scenes of almost indescribable horror attended the catastrophe. Scores of girls leaped from windows eight, nine and ten stories above the street to their death. In one place so many bodies fell that the glass and iron deadlights in the pavement were broken," reported the New York Tribune the following day.

So my kid and I need a change of pace. While historically relevant, this trip was a bummer.  We meandered East, looking for dinner and found ourselves on the Bowery.  In front of 315 Bowery, currently a John Varvatos clothing shop, but for me it was CBGBs.  The place where I saw The Dead Kennedys, Agent Orange, The Bad Brains, The Ramones, and Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers.  I took a big breath and took the kids inside.  The walls and ceiling were left as they were, layers of graffiti and decals.  I could not take out my camera in there, it would have been like taking photos in a morgue.  

I asked the staff at Varvatos if the bathroom was left the way it was, they smiled and said no.  My son wanted to know why I asked about the bathroom.  I wont be able to tell him till he is of the legal age to indulge.  My daughter asked me why CBGBs closed.  I told her the neighborhood changed.  I did not tell her it changed to a place where you actually had to use a toilet if you needed to used the bathroom

I told my kids that I hope one day they have as much fun as I had when I was in CBGBs but they could not tell me for 10 years after they had that fun.

When we left I saw some chalk on the sidewalk.

Jenny Stellino lived at 315 Bowery till she died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire on 3-28-11.  She was 16, about the same age that I was when I first went to CBGBs.


  1. I know your kids will appreciate your extra effort in helping them understand how powerful and tangible history can be.

  2. I wish I'd been there to see the memorial. Shucks.
    That sounds like a cool day. Glad it wasn't all gloom and doom.


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