I'm a fighter, not a lover.

Friday, March 24, 2006

95 years later

Tomorrow marks the 95th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

Like others, most of what I know about this terrible event is drawn from dramatized accounts of it (a movie was released in the 70s and several documentaries on the topic also exist).

For me, I was most overwhelmed by the account of it in Kevin Baker's Dreamland, a historical fiction piece that, while named after a Coney Island amusement park, follows the immigrant lives of several people throughout the entire city. One is a seamstress and activist at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company.

Even reading a simple encyclopedia entry about the fire is emotional enough.

We owe a lot to those women and that terrible event. Just a couple of years before the fire, the women at that same sweat shop staged a spontaneous walk-out that led to a city-wide strike, effectively shutting down garment production throughout the boroughs and ultimately (barely) raising their pay.


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