Commemorating the Centennial of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

Posted on: March 26th, 2011 at 9:31 am by

Hundreds assembled at the foot of the NYU Brown Building (formerly Asch) in Greenwich Village yesterday afternoon to honor and remember the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.  Washington Place was packed from Greene all the way to Broadway, and felt like one large union rally.  People carried signs of union support alongside posters honoring the fallen.  Many carried commemorative shirtwaists which paid tribute to ancestral victims, in essence becoming family flag-bearers.

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The event kicked off with performance – songs, poem readings, and such.  Apropos, for sure, that “Do You Hear the People Sing” from Les Miserables was part of that soundtrack.  After the arts portion, it was speakers.  And plenty of them; for well over an hour.  We heard from Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Senator Chuck Schumer, and Mayor Bloomberg, among others.

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Even Sgt. Murtaugh Danny Glover put in his two cents.  Meanwhile, a veritable who’s who of local politicians and union leaders sat on stage – Rep. Charlie Rangel, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and former mayor Dinkins all received shout-outs but did not speak.

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Throughout the speeches and rallying, members of the New York Fire Department stood idly to the right.  Eventually it was time for roll call, led by Commissioner Salvatore Cassano, and the extension of Ladder 20.  The ladder was raised to the sixth floor of the building, which was the upper limit of firefighting capability during the fire in 1911.  Funeral bunting two stories above called attention to the windows from which so many young girls jumped to their deaths.  Today, fire engine ladders reach 100 feet.

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The following is video, with vocal accompaniment by some random press dude behind us:

Then, the bell tolled…

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