University remembers victims on 100 year anniversary of fire

St. John’s University has been honoring the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, in which 146 garment workers died, throughout the month of March.

Events took place across the Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island campuses to commemorate New York City’s worst workplace disaster prior to 9/11. The Triangle Fire was the starting point for many workplace reforms and bringing to light the struggles of turn of the century factory workers.

The fire occurred on March 25, 1911 and sparked a still ongoing conversation about the conditions of American workplaces.

The University has scheduled events ranging from lectures on fire safety and sweatshops today to a memorial candle lighting ceremony. There was also an ongoing exhibit of artifacts and documents from the fire on the Manhattan campus.

Many of the events tied into the ongoing celebration of Women’s History Month, as most victims of the fire were women. The Staten Island campus will host Women’s History Month Empower Hour this Friday, a which they will discuss the lives of the women who worked in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.

This coming Friday, the actual anniversary of the fire, there will be a multitude of events occurring on the Queens campus, ending in “A Tribute to the Lives Lost,” a theatrical performance sponsored by the department of Student Life.

The origins of this month-long commemoration go back to 2007, according to a press release issued by the department of Media Relations.

As incoming freshman, the class of 2011 was required to read Katharine Weber’s Triangle, a fictionalized historical account of the Fire. Dr. Julia Upton, the provost of the University, has been working since to develop a memorial.

“It has been called ‘The fire that changed America,'” Upton said in the release. “But I wonder how much it changed us. The fire fueled the international labor movement and many fire safety laws have been enacted as a result of that tragedy.”

Upton also said she wanted the University community to be inspired to answer the lingering questions about working conditions in America and around the world throught the programs scheduled.

For more information on the events, visit