This “outstanding history” of the 1911 disaster that changed the course of 20th-century politics and labor relations “is social history at its best” (Kevin Baker, The New York Times Book Review).
New York City, 1911. As the workday was about to end, a fire broke out in the Triangle shirtwaist factory of Greenwich Village. Within minutes it consumed the building’s upper three stories. Firemen were powerless to rescue those trapped inside: their ladders simply weren’t tall enough. People on the street watched in horror as desperate workers jumped to their deaths.
Triangle is both a harrowing chronicle of the Triangle shirtwaist fire and a vibrant portrait of an era. It follows the waves of Jewish and Italian immigration that supplied New York City’s garment factories with cheap, mostly female labor. It portrays the Dickensian work conditions that led to a massive waist-worker’s strike in which an unlikely coalition of socialists, socialites, and suffragettes took on bosses, police, and magistrates. And it shows how a public outcry over the fire led to an unprecedented alliance between labor reformers and Tammany Hall politicians.
With a memorable cast of characters, including J.P. Morgan’s blue-blooded activist daughter Anne, and political king maker Charles F. Murphy, as well as the many workers who lost their lives in the fire, Triangle presents a dramatic account of early 20th century New York and the events that gave rise to urban liberalism.
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book