A group led by Rhetoric professor Mary Anne Trasciatti advocating for a memorial to the Triangle shirt factory fire won a major victory this week when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a $1.5 million grant to fund the project, the New York Times reported.
Dr. Trasciatti is president of the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, a group of worker advocates and relatives of victims that conducted a design competition for the memorial in 2013, and began a fund-raising effort this year. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, in which 146 workers – most of them young, immigrant women – died, was the deadliest industrial disaster in New York City history. It led to safety reforms, including the city requiring automatic sprinklers in tall buildings and workplace fire drills.
“The memorial will be a reminder of the struggles that keep us safe now, as workers and as citizens,” Trasciatti told the Times earlier this year. “These things were achieved on the backs of immigrant workers and women workers. It was their misfortunes that gave us the protections we have today.”
As a scholar, activist and the daughter and granddaughter of garment workers, Trasciatti’s work to memorialize the Triangle fire has taken many forms. Along with the Hofstra Cultural Center, she is organizing an event and exhibition at Hofstra on March 8, 2016 commemorating the 105th anniversary of the fire.
The building that housed the factory still stands. The memorial will include several large steel panels on the structure, one bearing the name of the victims and another with a narrative history of the fire.