Katie Couric's Notebook: Triangle Factory

On March 25, 1911, a match or cigarette sparked a fire at the Triangle Waist Company. Horse-drawn fire engines are seen here on their way to the fire. George Grantham Bain Collection/Library of Congress

"They crashed through broken glass. They crushed themselves to death on the sidewalk. Of those who stayed behind, it is better to say nothing."

That's a line from the original New York Times report on the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire - which happened 100 years ago today.

At 4:40 in the afternoon, a fire broke out in a scrap bin at the Greenwich Village factory. Within 30 minutes, 146 people were dead - most of them girls and young women.

Anger and calls for change spread as quickly as the flames, and sweeping reform rose like a phoenix from the ashes. Health and safety regulations were established, along with minimum wage, maximum work hours...and child labor laws.

Until just last month, six of the Triangle fire victims remained unidentified. Today, for the first time, all 146 will be named at a memorial service.

What was destroyed in half an hour...built a century-long legacy of workers' rights.

That's a page from my notebook.

I'm Katie Couric, CBS News.

Comments

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Watch Now

On Twitter

New Android App

For your Android phone and tablet, download the FREE redesigned app, featuring CBSN, live 24/7 news.

Download
The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App