the triangle shirtwaist factory fre; a reasearch paper; labor laws of the early 1900s and reforms that followed a tragedy

Essay by radiator25High School, 10th gradeA+, January 2003

download word file, 8 pages 4.6

On the morning of March 25, 1911, five-hundred women and children went to work in the Asch building where the Triangle Shirtwaist Company was located in New York City. By the end of that day, only 350 would walk out alive. At 4:40 in the afternoon, a pile of scrap material caught fire on the eighth floor cutting room (Jackson). The fire quickly spread to the ninth and tenth floors also occupied by the company. Although 146 people lost their lives in one of the worst fire related tragedies of the Industrial Revolution, the reforms that would follow were necessary for the good of all.

Prior to the fire, conditions in factories of the late 1800s - early 1900s were extremely dangerous. Asa G. Candler, founder of Coca-Cola, summed up the attitudes of many employers of that time, "The most beautiful sight that we see is the child at labor.

As early as he may get at labor, the more beautiful, the more useful does his life get to be." (Meltzer 56). Child labor was a common practice at that time in history. In 1900, two million children between the ages of 10 and 15 were employed, over half of them girls (Meltzer 54). Owners of factories sought cheap labor to increase their profits. Most commonly, Jewish, Italian, Russian, and Hungarian immigrants worked 20 hours a day and earned an average of $1.56 a week (Meltzer 54). This was both unfair and dangerous. Other factors included overcrowding, lack of proper sanitation, and little or no ventilation.

Specifically, at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, conditions were very poor. The company occupied the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors of the ten story building located on the corner of Washington and Greene Streets (Jackson). On the 8th floor, there were 220 sewing machines and...