On March 25, 1911, in Manhattan, the deadliest industrial accident in the history of the country occurred. At Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, the owners left for the day with employees continuing to work. The owners locked the doors when they left in order to prevent the workers from taking breaks when they were not supposed to. When the factory caught fire, the workers were trapped. One-hundred and forty-six workers were killed in the accident including many immigrants, women, and children. Victims as old as forty-three and as young as fourteen died in the fire. Some victims were burned to death by the fire, some died from inhaling the smoke, and some died from jumping to their deaths.The majority of the victims were female immigrants that were either Italian or Jewish.
This fire resulted from a series of social changes that started with the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution created a chain reaction that led to the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. It all started with a series of social changes. When the Industrial Revolution began in the latex 1800s, it created a boom in the middle class. Businessmen and factory owners were able to make much more money because of the efficiency that was brought about by the improved technology of the Industrial Revolution. As a result, the middle class was then able to afford more workers. Because they could afford it, they hired in bulk and many job opportunities were created. Because of the new, highly efficient machines, there was little qualification for these openings and as a result, many people immigrated to the United States in order to find work. These were each huge social changes in the United States. The booming of the middle class was a huge social change because prior to the Industrial Revolution, the middle class was considered directly in the middle of the rich and poor. Now, they were elevated much higher than the poor and the social change altered the balance of classes in the country. In addition, the new job opportunities was a huge social change. Previously, it was difficult to find jobs in the Untied States if you were not a citizen because companies favored American workers. However, the Industrial Revolution led to more job opportunities and therefore, more immigrants. Each of these social changes led to an enormous immigrant workforce at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, yet there were still no regulations on working conditions. As a result of the social changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution, there were a huge number of workers in the factory and therefore, a huge number of victims.
The chain reaction of social changes that were started by the Industrial Revolution was not yet finished. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory itself led to even more social change. After the one-hundred and forty-six victims were killed, it led to the realization that working conditions had to be improved. As a result, workers began to demand better working conditions and even went on strike at certain times. Eventually, the labor disputes led to the labor unions that characterized much of the twentieth century and are still very relevant even today. Work conditions improved for workers, which was a direct result of the social changes initiated by the Industrial Revolution and the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.