THE TRIANGLE SHIRTWAIST FACTORY FIRE MEMORIAL New York, NY Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition October 2010 The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire • Occurred March 25, 1911 on the top three floors of the ten-story Asch Building (23-29 Washington Place, near Washington Square Park). • Was one of the largest industrial disasters in the history of the city of New York, causing the death of 146 garment workers, most of them female European immigrants between the ages of 16 and 23, who either died from the fire or jumped from the fatal height. • Was made more fatal by the factory owners’ decision to lock exit doors in an attempt to prevent worker theft, trapping workers in the burning building. • Was foreshadowed by a 1909 Triangle Shirtwaist workers’ strike, the first-large scale strike of women workers in the United States, among the unmet demands of which were improved fire safety measures. • Marked a dramatic shift in the labor movement, spurring legislation that improved factory safety standards and general working conditions; the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, which advocated for sweatshop workers; and raised public consciousness of workers’ rights. Site: The Brown Building of Science (23-29 Washington Place at Greene St) • Was constructed in 1900-01 as the Asch Building in the Neo-Renaissance style; its façade sustained only minor damage from the fire. • Is both a New York City Landmark and a National Landmark, part of the National Register of Historical Places. • Was purchased and donated to NYU by Fredrick Brown in 1929 and has been in continuous use as an academic facility ever since. • Is situated at the heart of NYU’s downtown campus (Soho), serving students of the sciences. • Is connected to and accessed via NYU’s Silver Center. • Currently memorializes the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Tragedy with two plaques that remember the lives lost.
The Remembrance of the 146 Lives Lost o The names, and perhaps ages, of all the workers who perished in the fire o Corresponding visualization (series of 146) • Suspended, light, triangular forms, suggesting a flock of birds in flight or shirtwaists billowing in the air (potentially illuminated for enhanced visibility, forming a constellation around the top three floors and above) • Vertical installation of a series of fine cables, indicating threads, that link the 8 – 10 floors above to the elements below Landmark Celebration of the Site and Continuing Conversation Elevated (10’ above sidewalk) scale model of the Brown Building of Science façade, creating a corner passageway, like an open book, at the Northwest Corner at the intersection of Greene Street and Washington Place o Exterior (Street-side): accurate depiction of the structure, possibly with glowing red windows on the 8 – 10 floors o Interior (Sidewalk side): street-level multimedia interface for flexible programming (to be determined and renewed by the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition) to provide ongoing opportunities for education and public engagement.