The Triangle Waist Factory fire occurred on 25th March 1911 in the heart of the diverse community in the Lower East Side of New York. The tragedy epitomises many aspects of the realities of immigrant life. People, particularly women, had little choice but to accept the dreadful conditions of the labour market.
“The fire at the Triangle Waist Company in New York City, which claimed the lives of 146 young immigrant workers, is one of the worst disasters since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
The Triangle Waist Company was in many ways a typical sweated factory in the heart of Manhattan, at 23-29 Washington Place, at the northern corner of Washington Square East. Low wages, excessively long hours, and unsanitary and dangerous working conditions were the hallmarks of sweatshops.”
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Here my research comes full circle. On the website I read one of the testimonials, Days and Dreams by Sadie Frowne about life as a sweat-shop girl. Defending her choice of spending wages on nice clothes, she writes:
“Some of the women blame me very much because I spend so much money on clothes. They say that instead of $1 a week I ought not to spend more than 25cents a week on clothes, and that I should save the rest. But a girl must have clothes if she is to go into high society at Ulmer Park or Coney Island …”