Posts Tagged ‘notorious New York City tragedies’

The murals memorializing the 1911 Triangle Fire

March 12, 2012

It’s one of the city’s most notorious tragedies: the March 25, 1911 fire that broke out on the upper floors of a Washington Place sweatshop, killing 146 workers, mostly young immigrant women.

The fire ushered in a new era of safety standards for garment-industry workers—a huge business in the city in the first half of the 20th century and the post-World War II years.

So in 1940, when a coalition of unions and government groups created a new secondary school, Central High School of Needle Trades, to train students to work in the garment industry, it seemed fitting to also commemorate the Triangle fire and the struggle for workers’ rights.

Artist Ernest Fiene was brought in by the Works Progress Administration to paint the murals in the auditorium of the new school, on 24th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.

“Completed in 1940, Fiene’s History of the Needlecraft Industry positions the Triangle fire at a critical juncture between the exploitative labor conditions characteristic of the early garment industry and the strong worker protections ushered in by unionism and New Deal legislation in the 1930s,” states this New York University website.

The high school is now called the High School for Fashion Industries, and though the auditorium isn’t open to non-students, more detailed information about all three panels can be found here.