Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

Rose Freedman
photo courtesy of
The Living Century

March 25, 2001 -- It was 90 years ago today when a fire broke out at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City. When it was over, 146 people, mostly immigrant women, were dead. The incident is remembered as one of the worst industrial disasters in the United States.

Rose Freedman was the last living survivor of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. She died on February 15th at the age of 107.

Freedman survived the fire by running up one flight of stairs, to the top floor. That's where the company executives worked, and she figured they would have a way to escape. She was right. Rather than unlocking any of the doors below to save the women, the executives had fled to the roof, where they were lifted to safety.

Rose Freedman
The Living Century

In the ensuing years, Freedman spoke out about the conditions that led to the fire. Company executives tried to buy her silence; she refused. Freedman went on to attend college, get married, and raise a family. After almost a century, she found herself back in the spotlight as the oldest survivor of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. She gave speeches and granted interviews and was featured in a documentary about her life that recently aired on many public television stations.

the story of the late Rose Freedman, who survived the Triangle Shirtwaist FireListen as Weekend All Things Considered host Lisa Simeone talks with Dana Walden, Rose Freedman's granddaughter.

Other Resources

For more on the documentary, check out the The Living Century Web site.

Learn more about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, visit Cornell University's Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives Web site at