Sunday, May 23, 2010

SOOC Sunday

Jan, here's a recent photo from Mt. Zion Cemetery of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Memorial.

Socialist Louis Waldman, later a New York state assemblyman, described the grim scene in his memoirs published in 1944:

One Saturday afternoon in March of that year [1911] — March 25, to be precise — I was sitting at one of the reading tables in the old Astor Library... It was a raw, unpleasant day and the comfortable reading room seemed a delightful place to spend the remaining few hours until the library closed. I was deeply engrossed in my book when I became aware of fire engines racing past the building. By this time I was sufficiently Americanized to be fascinated by the sound of fire engines. Along with several others in the library, I ran out to see what was happening, and followed crowds of people to the scene of the fire.

A few blocks away, the Asch Building at the corner of Washington Place and Greene Street was ablaze. When we arrived at the scene, the police had thrown up a cordon around the area and the firemen were helplessly fighting the blaze. The eighth, ninth, and tenth stories of the building were now an enormous roaring cornice of flames.

Word had spread through the East Side, by some magic of terror, that the plant of the Triangle Waist Company was on fire and that several hundred workers were trapped. Horrified and helpless, the crowds — I among them — looked up at the burning building, saw girl after girl appear at the reddened windows, pause for a terrified moment, and then leap to the pavement below, to land as mangled, bloody pulp. This went on for what seemed a ghastly eternity. Occasionally a girl who had hesitated too long was licked by pursuing flames and, screaming with clothing and hair ablaze, plunged like a living torch to the street. Life nets held by the firemen were torn by the impact of the falling bodies.

The emotions of the crowd were indescribable. Women were hysterical, scores fainted; men wept as, in paroxysms of frenzy, they hurled themselves against the police lines.[11]

The remainder waited until smoke and fire overcame them. The fire department arrived quickly but was unable to stop the flames, as there were no ladders available that could reach beyond the sixth floor. The fallen bodies and falling victims also made it difficult for the fire department to reach the building.

Although early references give the death toll as anywhere from 141[12] to 148,[13] almost all modern references agree that 146 people died as a result of the fire.[14][15][16][17][18] Six victims were never identified.[19] Most victims died of burns, asphyxiation, blunt impact injuries, or a combination of the three.[20]

It is often stated that most or all of the dead were women, but almost thirty of the victims were men. Eyewitnesses reported seeing men and women jumping out of the windows; the first jumper was a man, and another man was seen kissing a young woman at the window before they both jumped to their deaths.

The novel Triangle by Katharine Weber is not to be missed, Jan.

Visit Murrieta 365 to visit more participants in SOOC Sunday.


Manang Kim said...

My heart pulse race as I read your post. It's very touching and as I imagine it the other part of my mind think about the 9/11 too. Those people who leapt thinking they might be able to survive? Thanks for this beautiful post. Happy Sunday!


Jan said...

Very touching, Mary. You are such a wonderful font of information. Hope you're feeling better.

lynda Howells said...

thank you for this beautiful postx
love your images for Shadow shot sundayx lyndax

ilanadavita said...

What a lot of information. Thanks for sharing!

Thom said...

I just love this photo and the information that went with it was stunning to read. I really enjoyed this. :) Thanks for sharing.

D'dubsters said...

Thanks for sharing this very interesting and informative behind the picture. Visit mine here too

Patti said...

Great shot. Love the composition.

Greyscale Territory said...

A very moving, informative post! You have described quite a traumatic event that has been given a fitting memorial!