Thursday, March 24, 2011

For Yetta and Beckie

On March 25, 1911, Yetta Rosenbaum, a 22 years old woman who lived at 308 East Houston Street, and 19 year old Beckie Neubauer, who lived at 19 Clinton Street, perished, along with 144 other factory workers, mostly young immigrant women, in the Triangle Shirt Factory Fire. CHALK IN MEMORY OF THE TRIANGLE SHIRTWAIST FACTORY FIRE commemorates each worker who died with a chalk memorial at their homes.

One sleepy, chilly early Sunday morning, Joke and I headed down to Houston and Clinton. We chalked, took pictures, spoke to passerbyers and remembered those young women who probably hoped for love and happiness as they struggled to make a living and a home in the New World.

19 Clinton Street, former home of Beckie, now a luxury condo building and yoga studio

Yetta's home on East Houston, now a Banco Popular

Yetta and Beckie did not die in vain.

From Women's History on
Among the results of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the public horror at the disaster:

* municipal, state, and federal association reforms to ensure better working conditions and worker safety
* stronger unions in the garment industry, to bargain on safety and working conditions and to lobby for legislative reforms
* founding of the American Society of Safety Engineers in New York City
* the New York political machine, Tammany Hall, though with a reputation for corruption, embraced labor reforms
* several individuals came to public attention, including Rose Schneiderman, Clara Lemlich, and Francis Perkins (later the first woman appointed to a cabinet position)


Anonymous said...

There has to be a better way to get action than innocent people dying. Why does it always have to come down to someone's death before something is done? In this case, such a horrific way to die.

CG said...

Wonderful. A poignant memorial.

Those legal results you share are among the decent rights, achieved usually through tragic circumstances, under siege right now by those whose only concern seems to be the maintenance of the status quo for the wealthy and powerful.

Atlanta Roofing said...

After the Triangle Shirtwaist fire in New York City, laws to protect workers were passed. Now corporations have moved production off-shore where they can violate the standards of decency and safety established in the United States. They are promoting a race to the bottom for workers.

c.o. moed said...

Thank you all so much for your incredible comments. It is so horrifyingly sad that today Triangle factories one way or another still exist and that workers' lives are put at risk for the demands of the market place.

We all have power in our spending dollars. I know that when purchasing new items I look at clothes labels as carefully as I look at food labels. I am joined by so many others letting our dollars do the talking and more and more there is proof that Big Business hears what we all are saying.