Beach "Street Art"
Beach Art

The Chalk Project - Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

This was posted on my previous blog last year but it is worth updating for this, my new blog, this year.

File this under memorial art but it is also a type of street art. The Triangle Chalk Project commemorates the women and men who died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in 1911. This horrific fire which claimed the lives of 146 garment workers - mostly young immigrant women - helped launched the unionization of the industry.

The company employed approximately 600 workers, mostly young immigrant women, some as young as twelve or thirteen and worked fourteen-hour shifts during a 60-hour to 72-hour workweek. According to Pauline Newman, a worker at the factory, the average wage was six to seven dollars a week, at a time when the average yearly income was $791. A fire started on the 8th floor of the factory building in Greenwich Village. Women on the 9th floor soon became trapped - the owners of the factory locked the doors so the women could not leave early or take breaks. Fire truck ladders could not reach higher than the 4th floor of the building. There was only one way out - they jumped out the window ... to their deaths. The scene was devastating.

Every year volunteers go to the doorsteps of the women who died and write a memorial to them in chalk on the sidewalk. Here are three of the ones I chalked:

For those who would like to learn more about this horrible tragedy, check out these Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire books

See more chalk project photos from 2009 here: http://www.streetpictures.org/news/2009/03/27/chalk-2009/ And remember - Next year 2011 will be the 100th anniversary of the fire.


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