Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Victims by Sydney Beveridge
One hundred years ago today, a fire devastated the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in Lower Manhattan. Burned, trapped and injured as they tried to escape, 146 people died in the blaze. Many of them young immigrant women, the median age of the victims was 20, and some were as young as 14.
Their deaths brought attention to dangerous working conditions in factories. Public outcry, labor organizing and advocacy helped to improve workplace safety and employment laws.
Looking back to the victims, we know their names and something about their backgrounds thanks to remembrance projects and documentarians. With Social Explorer, you can learn more about when and where they lived.
Using 1910 census data, we focused on downtown Manhattan census tracts where multiple victims resided (based on a map from Street Pictures).
Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Victim Manhattan Neighborhoods (1910 census tract)
In these Lower East Side and Village neighborhoods, more than two thirds of residents were recently arrived immigrants. The concentration of immigrants was high, even for Manhattan. In the borough, 77% of residents were immigrants or the children of immigrants, while in these neighborhoods, nearly 97% were.
New York City may be a melting pot, but it was almost exclusively mixing immigrants together. These census tracts housed almost no native born whites and even fewer blacks. (In one of the tracts with a higher black population, the number of black residents equaled the number of residents born at sea—a scant six people.)
Many of these immigrants came from Russia (47.6%), Austria (22.7%) and Italy (12.0%), followed by Hungary (5.7%), Germany (3.9%) and Ireland (2.2%).
Social Explorer’s tools help users learn more context about the past.