When the Empire State Building opened on May 1, 1931, it was the tallest building in the world – standing at 1,250 feet tall. This building not only became an icon of New York City, it became a symbol of twentieth century man’s attempts to achieve the impossible.
How did this gigantic icon get built? It started with a race to the sky.
When the Eiffel Tower (984 feet) was built in 1889 in Paris it, in a way, taunted American architects to build something taller. By the early twentieth century, a skyscraper race was on. By 1909 the Metropolitan Life Tower rose 700 feet (50 stories), quickly followed by the Woolworth Building in 1913 at 792 feet (57 stories), and soon surpassed by the Bank of Manhattan Building in 1929 at 927 feet (71 stories).
When John Jakob Raskob (previously a vice president of General Motors) decided to join in the skyscraper race, Walter Chrysler (founder of the Chrysler Corporation) was constructing a monumental building, the height of which he was keeping secret until the building’s completion. Not knowing exactly what height he had to beat, Raskob started construction on his own building.
In 1929, Raskob and his partners bought a parcel of property at 34th Street and Fifth Avenue for their new skyscraper. On this property sat the glamorous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Since the property on which the hotel was located had become extremely valuable, the owners of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel decided to sell the property and build a new hotel on Park Avenue (between 49th and 50th Streets). Raskob was able to purchase the site for approximately $16 million.
After deciding on and obtaining a site for the skyscraper, Raskob needed a plan. Raskob hired Shreve, Lamb & Harmon to be the architects for his new building. It is said that Raskob pulled a thick pencil out of a drawer and held it up to William Lamb and asked, “Bill, how high can you make it so that it won’t fall down?”1
Lamb got started planning right away. Soon, he had a plan:
The logic of the plan is very simple. A certain amount of space in the center, arranged as compactly as possible, contains the vertical circulation, mail chutes, toilets, shafts and corridors. Surrounding this is a perimeter of office space 28 feet deep. The sizes of the floors diminish as the elevators decrease in number. In essence, there is a pyramid of non-rentable space surrounded by a greater pyramid of rentable space.2
But was the plan high enough to make the Empire State Building the tallest in the world? Hamilton Weber, the original rental manager, describes the worry:
We thought we would be the tallest at 80 stories. Then the Chrysler went higher, so we lifted the Empire State to 85 stories, but only four feet taller than the Chrysler. Raskob was worried that Walter Chrysler would pull a trick – like hiding a rod in the spire and then sticking it up at the last minute.3
The race was getting very competitive. With the thought of wanting to make the Empire State Building higher, Raskob himself came up with the solution. After examining a scale model of the proposed building, Raskob said, “It needs a hat!”4 Looking toward the future, Raskob decided that the “hat” would be used as a docking station for dirigibles. The new design for the Empire State Building, including the dirigible mooring mast, would make the building 1,250 tall (the Chrysler Building was completed at 1,046 feet with 77 stories).
Fun Fact About the Empire State Building
Where is the Empire State Building located?
The Empire State Building is located at 350 Fifth Avenue (between 33rd and 34th Streets) in New York City.
How tall is it?
There are several numbers to describe the height of the Empire State Building. The total height of the building, including the lightning rod, is 1,454 feet. The height of the building from the ground to its tip is usually given as 1,250 feet. The measurement from the ground to the 102nd floor observatory is 1,224 feet and from the ground to the 86th floor observatory is 1,050 feet.
Who were the architects?
Shreve, Lamb & Harmon Associates
Who built the Empire State Building?
The builders Starrett Bros. & Eken were contracted to build it.
How long did it take to build?
The building was actually completed ahead of schedule, taking only one year and 45 days to build.
How much did the Empire State Building cost to build?
The building itself cost $24,718,000 to build (nearly half the expected cost because of the Great Depression). Including the property on which the building sits, the total cost for the Empire State Building was $40,948,900.
How many floors are in the Empire State Building?
There are 102 floors.
How many steps are there to the top of the Empire State Building?
There are 1,860 from street level to 102nd floor.
How many windows are in the building?
There are 6,500 windows. What a lot to clean!
How many man-hours did it take to construct?
It took 7,000,000 man-hours.
How many people worked on the building?
At peak times, there were as many as 3,400 workers at one time.
How much steel did it take to construct the frame?
It took 57,000 tons of steel to construct the steel skeleton.
How much telephone wire is in the Empire State Building?
There is approximately 17 million feet of telephone wire servicing the building.
How many people died while building the Empire State Building?
Though rumors of hundreds of people dying on the work site circulated during the time of its construction, official records state that only five workers were killed: one worker was struck by a truck; a second fell down an elevator shaft; a third was hit by a hoist; a fourth was in a blast area; and a fifth fell off a scaffold.
The History of Richmond Town, Staten Island,
and Development of the Museum
In the heart of Staten Island, there is a place where the past can still be experienced with all your senses. The story of Richmond Town reveals layers of the past, and the lives of ordinary people connected to each other in many ways. From its beginning as a rural crossroad, through its development as county seat, to its place as a rustic outpost within New York City, this has been a community of people living and working together.
Staten Island is located at the entrance of New York Harbor, one of the world’s greatest natural ports. Algonquin Indians of the Lenape culture inhabited the island when it was sighted by Giovanni da Verrazano in 1524. During the 1600s, a few settlements were formed on Staten Island when the Dutch colonized the region, seeking wealth from its natural resources. Staten Island was named in honor of the governing body of the Netherlands, the States General, but in 1664 the British took control. Staten Island became part of the colony of New York and was designated the County of Richmond.
|The town of Richmond was first established as a crossroads settlement among the scattered farms of Staten Island. It was not the first village; but because of its central location, the Dutch Reformed congregation chose this place for its religious activities. They built a combined meeting house and home for their lay minister and teacher. His name was Hendrick Kroesen, and he lived here with his family from about 1696 to 1701.
In the 1700s, the town of Richmond began to take shape as the government center of Richmond County. Most of the people who chose to live at Richmond in the early period were of Dutch, English, or French ancestry. There were blacksmiths, shoemakers, and other craftsmen. A storekeeper and a doctor lived in town. Mills processed grain from local farms. At least some residents owned African slaves, who were laborers or skilled apprentices.
During the American Revolution, British troops were stationed here, sleeping in the homes and barns of Richmond’s families. A church and an early courthouse were destroyed.
In the early 1800s, the young nation was flourishing. As Manhattan became increasingly crowded, Staten Island emerged as a popular retreat. Wealthy city residents built estates and resorts on Staten Island’s hilltops and near its shores. Towns popped up around new industries which produced goods for the growing metropolis. Other communities centered upon maritime trades–like Sandy Ground, which was founded by African American oystermen.
|As more people came to live on Staten Island, the business of the county grew, and the tiny hamlet of Richmond grew as well. The Greek Revival style courthouse building was erected in 1837, giving the whole town a heightened air of prominence. On land surrounding the courthouse, a small residential development was created. This new civic center on the hill overlooked the older section of town, just a few hundred yards away. Richmond Town was a bustling neighborhood and a meeting place for people who came to town to appear at court, attend church or school, or stop in a tavern. Local businesses prospered.
||Third County Court House, built 1837
|But by the end of the 1800s, growth at Richmond had slowed. When court was not in session, the town center had a sleepy quality.
There were still enterprising business people here, like Solomon Rosenberg, who operated the Richmond Road House. Sarah Black and her sisters ran their family’s general store for many years. But the town’s development did not keep pace with Staten Island as a whole. Towns along the island’s shores, like Tompkinsville and Port Richmond, had become more important centers of commerce, partly because they had better access to transportation. One hundred years ago, Richmond Town was already known as an old-fashioned place.
Sarah Black, Mary Black, and Josephine Black
When Staten Island became a borough of New York City in 1898, some county functions were gradually absorbed by the city government and a new government center was built at St. George, the island’s closest point to Manhattan.
Richmond continued as a residential neighborhood, but the loss of the county seat was a severe blow to local businesses.
Development of the Museum
Although Richmond was no longer the government center of Staten Island, it soon became the center of the local preservation movement. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, an idea arose from the local community. Volunteers from the Staten Island Historical Society, which had been founded in 1856, shared a vision of what Richmond Town could become. As a volunteer organization determined to preserve an entire village, their activities were unprecedented. Led by William T. Davis and Loring McMillen, these early preservationists believed that saving evidence of the past could connect all of us to the real people who lived before us.
The former County Clerk’s and Surrogate’s Office was transformed into the first museum facility at Richmond Town, with the help of government grants from the Works Progress Administration. Staten Islanders donated artifacts, along with the books and archives that are used to document local history. Although many early buildings had already been lost, the Voorlezer’s House was rediscovered after centuries of obscurity–still standing, though barely recognizable. It was quickly restored and opened to the public with rousing celebrations of civic pride.
County Clerk’s and
Surrogate’s Office, built 1848
In the 1950s the Historical Society signed a contract with the City of New York, promising to maintain and develop Historic Richmond Town as a museum village. The purpose was not to freeze a single moment in time, but to create a journey through time, so that we can witness the evolution of the town, meeting people along the way.
The Historical Society moved additional buildings to Richmond Town to help tell the story of Staten Island’s past. These buildings would not have survived had they remained on their original sites.
Today, the restoration, collecting, and research continues. A professional staff works with the help of many community volunteers to preserve the magic that will keep history alive at Richmond Town for generations to come.
Your Visit to Historic Richmond Town
Today there are 27 buildings within the museum village, many of which have been restored and are open for touring. You can see furnished interiors, formal exhibitions, and demonstrations of daily activities of early Staten Islanders on a seasonal, scheduled basis. Your journey through time can take you to the home of Hendrick Kroesen, the Dutch Voorlezer in the 1690s.
You’ll pass through time to rural Staten Island of the 1820s and visit the farmhouse where Elizabeth Lake Tysen was born and later raised 10 children of her own. Closer to the Courthouse, you’ll see the buildings of the town center, including the home and general store owned by Stephen D. Stephens in the 1860s. You can return all through the year to enjoy a variety of special programs.
8 Easy Little Ways to Go Green
If you are not ready yet to start making green changes in your life but still want to help the environment, there are several ways to help you into a greener lifestyle.
When running errands, park your car and go inside instead of using the drive-thru, if the places you are going are close to each other walk; don’t forget that for every two minutes your car is inactive, it uses approximately the same amount of fuel you would use to travel one mile. What a waste of gas!
Eat Your Veggies
If your food could talk, it would tell you a lot. Typical grocery store products travel nearly 1,500 miles before it ends up on your plate. All this traveling burns fossil fuels and results in carbon emissions or what we call pollution. Buying from local farmers means you’re not only getting the freshest food possible, but also you’re saving energy.
One of the easiest ways to reduce paper use in your house is by paying your bills online and receiving statements via e-mail. Taking advantage of paperless programs at your bank or utility company means you’ll save money on stamps, eliminate paper waste and always have easy access to your account information and payment history.
The fossil fuels burned to provide a single home with electricity put more carbon dioxide into the air than two average cars. Use less energy by turning off lights and unplugging appliances when you don’t need them. Even a cell phone charger continues to use energy when plugged in, whether your cell phone is charging or not. If you use a power strip, you can turn off several appliances with the flip of just one switch.
Check Your Temperature
Sometimes a small change in temperature can have big results. Try keeping your thermostat one to two degrees warmer in the summer and one to two degrees cooler in the winter. This will lower your electricity bill and save a wealth of energy over the course of the year. In nice weather, open windows instead of using lamps and air conditioning.
See the Light
In good weather, you can use natural light to your advantage by opening windows and drawing back curtains, rather than lighting your house 24/7 with lamps and ceiling lights. In hot weather, use heavy curtains or shades to block out the heat and prevent your AC from working overtime.
By taking shorter and fewer showers you can save thousands of gallons of water each year. An ordinary showerhead flows 5 gallons of water per minute, so if you take a five-minute shower instead of a 10-minute one you’ll save 25 gallons of water. Other ways to save water include running full loads through your dishwasher and laundry washing machine, Use cold water and cold-water detergents to save energy, and use a dryer rack instead of the mechanical dryer once a week.
Another simple way to eliminate waste and save money is to make the switch to rechargeable batteries. Even though their initial cost is higher, rechargeable batteries can be recharged hundred of times before they go bad, meaning they could last for years longer than the disposable kind and save you significant cash in the long run. Remember to responsibly recycle dead batteries, both rechargeable and disposable.
Blog one change you are willing to make to go green
- Official dedication ceremonies held on Thursday, October 28, 1886
- Total overall height from the base of the pedestal foundation to the tip of the torch is 305 feet, 6 inches
- Height of the Statue from her heel to the top of her head is 111 feet, 6 inches
- The face on the Statue of Liberty measures more than 8 feet tall
- There are 154 steps from the pedestal to the head of the Statue of Liberty
- A tablet held in her left hand measures 23′ 7″ tall and 13′ 7″ wide inscribed with the date JULY IV MDCCLXXVI (July 4, 1776)
- The Statue has a 35-foot waistline
- There are seven rays on her crown, one for each of the seven continents, each measuring up to 9 feet in length and weighing as much as 150 pounds
- Total weight of the Statue of Liberty is 225 tons (or 450,000 pounds)
- At the feet of the Statue lie broken shackles of oppression and tyranny
- During the restoration completed in 1986, the new torch was carefully covered with thin sheets of 24k gold
- The exterior copper covering of the Statue of Liberty is 3/32 of an inch thick (less than the thickness of two pennies) and the light green color (called a patina) is the result of natural weathering of the copper
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling: Environmental Concerns
1. What does it mean if a notebook is made from recycled paper?
- A) The notebook is made from inexpensive materials.
- B) The notebook is made from nonrenewable resources.
- C) The notebook is made from paper that was used before.
- D) The notebook is made from materials that came directly from trees.
- 2. What are two problems with throwing away trash?
- A) pollution and creating traffic
- B) pollution and using up natural resources
- C) running out of space and creating traffic
- D) using up natural resources and attracting animals
- 3. Which is an example of a solid waste?
- A) soil
- B) trees
- C) a tin can
- D) polluted water
- 4. About how much trash does a family throw away every year?
- A) 3 pounds
- B) 14 pounds
- C) 200 pounds
- D) 5,000 pounds
- 5. Which is an example of a renewable resource?
- A) oil
- B) a tree
- C) aluminum
- D) a plastic bottle
- 6. Why are materials like toxic chemicals and oil not allowed in most sanitary landfills?
- A) They do not dissolve in water.
- B) They attract birds and other animals.
- C) They can melt plastics and other waste.
- D) They can pollute air and drinking water.
- 7. Which is one of the three R’s of solving the problems of solid waste?
- A) reduce
- B) resource
- C) regulate
- D) refine
- 8. Using fewer disposable items can help to protect our environment from problems with solid waste.
- 9. What is a way to reuse solid waste?
- A) throwing a paper bag in a trash can
- B) buying a toy with plastic packaging
- C) breaking glass bottles into smaller pieces
- D) using an empty milk carton to make a bird feeder
The Light of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is 151 feet, 1 inch (46 meters, 2.5 centimeters) tall.
Photograph by Dean Conger
Photograph by Dean Conger
On July 4, 1884 France presented the United States with an incredible birthday gift: the Statue of Liberty! Without its pedestal it’s as tall as a 15-story building. She represents the United States. But the world-famous Statue of Liberty standing in New York Harbor was built in France. The statue was presented to the U.S., taken apart, shipped across the Atlantic Ocean in crates, and rebuilt in the U.S. It was France’s gift to the American people.
It all started at dinner one night near Paris in 1865. A group of Frenchmen were discussing their dictator-like emperor and the democratic government of the U.S. They decided to build a monument to American freedom—and perhaps even strengthen French demands for democracy in their own country. At that dinner was the sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi (bar-TOLE-dee). He imagined a statue of a woman holding a torch burning with the light of freedom.
Turning Bartholdi’s idea into reality took 21 years. French supporters raised money to build the statue, and Americans paid for the pedestal it would stand on. Finally, in 1886, the statue was dedicated.
- Engineer Gustave Eiffel, who would later design the Eiffel Tower in Paris, designed Liberty’s “spine.” Inside the statue four huge iron columns support a metal framework that holds the thin copper skin.
- Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi knew he wanted to build a giant copper goddess; he used his mother as the model.
- The statue—151 feet, 1 inch (46 meters, 2.5 centimeters) tall—was the tallest structure in the U.S. at that time.
- The arm holding the torch measures 46 feet (14 meters); the index finger, 8 feet (2.4 meters); the nose, nearly 5 feet (1.5 meters).
- The statue is covered in 300 sheets of coin-thin copper. They were hammered into different shapes and riveted together.
- The statue sways 3 inches (7.62 centimeters) in the wind; the torch sways 5 inches (12.7 centimeters).
- Visitors climb 354 steps (22 stories) to look out from 25 windows in the crown.
- Seven rays in the crown represent the Earth’s seven seas.
Pick an adult in the room to write an article about.
Ms.Broderick – Student Council
Mr. Green – Graduates from Brooklyn College with a Counseling Degree
Ms. Rosen- Plans the Carnival’s for our School
Remember to research your choice by making sure you have the answer to the following questions Who? What? Where? When? and Why?
Take notes during the interview on this sheet:Then Write your paragraph on this sheet from your notes.
Lenape women, Oklahoma (1910), descendants of original inhabitants of New York City region
Skeletons unearthed at Lenape burial ground, Burial Ridge in Staten Island, the largest pre-European burial ground in NYC.
As in much of North America, human habitation appeared in the island fairly rapidly after the retreat of the ice sheet. Archaeologists have recovered tool evidence of Clovis culture activity dating from approximately 14,000 years ago. This evidence was first discovered in 1917 in the Charleston section of the island. Various Clovis artifacts have been discovered since then, on property owned by the Mobil Oil corporation. The island was probably abandoned later, possibly because of the extinctionof large mammals on the island. Evidence of the first permanent American Indian settlements and agriculture are thought to date from about 5,000 years ago (Jackson, 1995), although early archaic habitation evidence has been found in multiple locations on the island (Ritchie 1963).
Rossville points; a distinct type of arrowhead which defines a Native American cultural period which spans the Archaic period to the Early Woodland period, dating from approximately 1500 to 100 BC., are named for the Rossville section of Staten Island where they were first recognized, having been found in the vicinity of the old Rossville Post Office building.
At the time of European contact the island was inhabited by the Raritan band of the Unamidivision of the Lenape. The Lenape who spoke Lenape (language) one of the Algonquian languages called Staten Island Aquehonga Manacknong part of the Lenape homeland known as Lenapehoking. The Lenape were known to the Europeans as the “Delaware” because they inhabitated both shores of the Delaware River.
The island was laced with foot trails, one of which followed the south side of the ridge near the course of present day Richmond Road and Amboy Road. The Lenape did not live in fixed encampments, but moved seasonally, using slash and burn agriculture. Shellfish was a staple of their diet, including the Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) which was abundant in the waterways throughout the present day New York City region. Evidence of their habitation can still be seen in the form of shell middens along the shore in the Tottenville section, where finding oyster shells larger than twelve inches (305 mm) is not uncommon.
Burial Ridge; a Lenape burial ground located on a bluff overlooking Raritan Bay in what is today the Tottenville section of Staten Island is the largest pre-European burial ground in New York City. Bodies have been reported unearthed at Burial Ridge during various periods in the nineteenth century from 1858 onward. After conducting independent research which included unearthing bodies interred at the site,ethnologist and archaeologist, George H. Pepper, was contracted in 1895 to conduct paid archaeological research at Burial Ridge by theAmerican Museum of Natural History. The burial ground today is unmarked and lies within the confines of Conference House Park.
The first recorded European contact with the island was in 1524 by Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, who in the employ of theFrench crown, sailed through The Narrows on the French ship La Dauphine and anchored for one night.
In 1609, the English explorer Henry Hudson sailing for the Dutch sailed into Upper New York Bay on his ship the Half Moon. Staaten Eylandt (literally “States Island”) was named in honor of the Dutch parliament known as the Staten-Generaal,
The first permanent Dutch settlement of the New Netherland colony was made on Governor’s Island in 1624, which had been used as a trading camp by them for over a decade before. In 1626 the colony transferred to the island of Manhattan, and was newly designated as the capital of New Netherland. Staaten Eylandt nevertheless remained uncolonized by the Dutch for many decades. From 1639 to 1655, the Dutch made three separate attempts to establish a permanent settlement on the island, but each time the settlement was destroyed in the conflicts between the Dutch and the local tribes. In 1661, the first permanent Dutch settlement was established at Oude Dorp(Dutch for “Old Village”), just south of the Narrows near South Beach, by a small group of Dutch, Walloon, and Huguenot families. Today, the last vestige of Oude Dorp exists as the present-day neighborhood of Old Town, adjacent to Old Town Road.
1 The Brooklyn Bridge was started in 1869 and completed on May 24th 1883
2. The Brooklyn Bridge is a suspension bridge
3. The designer of the Bridge was John A. Roebling who died from an injury to his foot and the infection that resulted
4. His son Washington Augustus Roebling would finish the bridge though he to would be injured in the process of building the bridge Working in compressed air in these caissons under the river caused him to get decompression sickness (“the bends“) shattering his health and rendering him unable to visit the site he would supervise it from a window in his bedroom in Brooklyn on the waterfront where he could see the bridge construction.
5. We know that many people thought the bridge could not be built
6 We know the project was supposed to cost 6 million dollars
7. We know that the bridge was vital to NYC because it would connect the two boroughs allowing people to live in Brooklyn and walk to work in Manhattan
What is Recycling
Recycling is the process of making or manufacturing new products from a product that has originally served its purpose. If these used products are disposed of in an appropriate, environmentally friendly way, the process of recycling has been set in motion.
Items that are made from materials such asaluminum, plastic water bottles, and certain kinds of paper (plus many more) can be separated from your regular trash and put in an appropriate recycling bin.
-Photo to the left by David R. Munson–
A large section of the universe is beginning to realize the importance of recycling. However, there are many members of the population that remain unaware or simply think it is too much of a bother.
We believe the trend is growing, however. And we further believe that proactive individuals andalternative energy companies are beginning to step up in a big way.
The Brooklyn Bridge is a beautiful bridge, it is reallly a piece of sculpture. Simone B.
Why build a suspension Bridge?
What was New York Like when this bridge was built
Why did they need a bridge? (1870- 1880)
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldestsuspension bridges in the United States. Completed in 1883, it connects the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning the East River. With a main span of 1,595.5 feet (486.3 m), it was the longest suspension bridge in the world from its opening until 1903, and the first steel-wire suspension bridge.
Originally referred to as the New York and Brooklyn Bridge and as the East River Bridge, it was dubbed the Brooklyn Bridge in a January 25, 1867 letter to the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and formally so named by the city government in 1915. Since its opening, it has become an iconic part of the New Yorkskyline. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1972.
Length of river span: 1595.5 feet
Total length of bridge: 5989 feet
Width of bridge floor: 85 feet
Suspension cables: four, each 15.75 inches in diameter and 3578.5 feet long, containing 5434 wires each, for a total length of 3515 miles of wire per cable
Foundation depth below high water, Brooklyn: 44 feet 6 inches
Foundation depth below high water, Manhattan: 78 feet 6 inches
Tower height above high water: 276 feet 6 inches
Roadway height above high water: 119 feet (at towers)
Total weight, not including masonry: 14,680 tons
The Triangle Waist Company was in many ways a typical sweated factory in the heart of Manhattan, at 23-29 Washington Place, at the northern corner of Washington Square East. Low wages, excessively long hours, and unsanitary and dangerous working conditions were the hallmarks of sweatshops.Even though many workers toiled under one roof in the Asch building, owned by Max Blanck and Isaac Harris, the owners subcontracted much work to individuals who hired the hands and pocketed a portion of the profits. Subcontractors could pay the workers whatever rates they wanted, often extremely low. The owners supposedly never knew the rates paid to the workers, nor did they know exactly how many workers were employed at their factory at any given point. Such a system led to exploitation.
SWEATSHOPS & STRIKES BEFORE 1911
Even today, sweatshops have not disappeared in the United States. They keep attracting workers in desperate need of employment and illegal immigrants, who may be anxious to avoid involvement with governmental agencies. Recent studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor found that 67% of Los Angeles garment factories and 63% of New York garment factories violate minimum wage and overtime laws. Ninety-eight percent of Los Angeles garment factories have workplace health and safety problems serious enough to lead to severe injuries or death.
The International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union organized workers in the women’s clothing trade. Many of the garment workers before 1911 were unorganized, partly because they were young immigrant women intimidated by the alien surroundings. Others were more daring, though. All were ripe for action against the poor working conditions. In 1909, an incident at the Triangle Factory sparked a spontaneous walkout of its 400 employees. The Women’s Trade Union League, a progressive association of middle class white women, helped the young women workers picket and fence off thugs and police provocation. At a historic meeting at Cooper Union, thousands of garment workers from all over the city followed young Clara Lemlich’s call for a general strike.
With the cloakmakers’ strike of 1910, a historic agreement was reached, that established a grievance system in the garment industry. Unfortunately for the workers, though, many shops were still in the hands of unscrupulous owners, who disregarded basic workers’ rights and imposed unsafe working conditions on their employees.
Near closing time on Saturday afternoon, March 25, 1911, a fire broke out on the top floors of the Asch Building in the Triangle Waist Company. Within minutes, the quiet spring afternoon erupted into madness, a terrifying moment in time, disrupting forever the lives of young workers. By the time the fire was over, 146 of the 500 employees had died. The survivors were left to live and relive those agonizing moments. The victims and their families, the people passing by who witnessed the desperate leaps from ninth floor windows, and the City of New York would never be the same.
Survivors recounted the horrors they had to endure, and passers-by and reporters also told stories of pain and terror they had witnessed. The images of death were seared deeply in their mind’s eye.
Many of the Triangle factory workers were women, some as young as 14 years old. They were, for the most part, recent Italian and European Jewish immigrants who had come to the United States with their families to seek a better life. Instead, they faced lives of grinding poverty and horrifying working conditions. As recent immigrants struggling with a new language and culture, the working poor were ready victims for the factory owners. For these workers, speaking out could end with the loss of desperately needed jobs, a prospect that forced them to endure personal indignities and severe exploitation. Some turned to labor unions to speak for them; many more struggled alone. The Triangle Factory was a non-union shop, although some of its workers had joined the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union.
New York City, with its tenements and loft factories, had witnessed a growing concern for issues of health and safety in the early years of the 20th century. Groups such as the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) and the Womens’ Trade Union League (WTUL) fought for better working conditions and protective legislation. The Triangle Fire tragically illustrated that fire inspections and precautions were woefully inadequate at the time. Workers recounted their helpless efforts to open the ninth floor doors to the Washington Place stairs. They and many others afterwards believed they were deliberately locked– owners had frequently locked the exit doors in the past, claiming that workers stole materials. For all practical purposes, the ninth floor fire escape in the Asch Building led nowhere, certainly not to safety, and it bent under the weight of the factory workers trying to escape the inferno. Others waited at the windows for the rescue workers only to discover that the firefighters’ ladders were several stories too short and the water from the hoses could not reach the top floors. Many chose to jump to their deaths rather than to burn alive.
YOUR CLASS IS GOING TO CREATE A SCHOOL NEWSPAPER
WHAT IS A NEWSPAPER?
WHAT DO YOU FIND IN A NEWSPAPER?
What Sections do you find in a News Paper?
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE IN A SCHOOL NEWSPAPER?
WHAT IS THE NAME OF YOUR SCHOOL NEWSPAPER?
BLOG YOUR SUGGESTIONS HERE?