The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

Near Pathside and Memory Gardens is a tall slab on which a woman is shown kneeling in despair. This marks a plot for victims of a terrible New York disaster.

On March 25, 1911, a fire broke out inside the locked exit doors of the Triangle Shirtwaist clothing factory located high in a ten-story building in Greenwich Village. (A woman’s shirt or blouse tailored like a man’s shirt, the shirtwaist was popular women’s clothing at that time.) Within twenty minutes, one hundred forty-six people – most of them Jewish immigrant women – were dead either from the fire or by throwing themselves out windows onto the sidewalks below. The victims of the fire whose remains were not claimed by friends or family were given a funeral attended by an estimated four hundred thousand mourners in a pouring rain, and then buried in several cemeteries. In the Evergreens’ burial ledger for 1911, listed on April 5 under “U” (for Unknown) are eight interments (numbered from 214,654 to 214,661). These were an uncertain number of victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire who were burned beyond recognition: an “unknown male,” six “unknown females,” and (most devastating) “several persons” so badly burned that not even their gender could be identified. One of the victims was subsequently identified and her remains were transferred to her family’s plot at Calvary Cemetery, a Catholic Cemetery. Originally interred elsewhere in the grounds, today the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire at the Evergreens lie under the kneeling woman, a statement both of mourning and of dedication to the safer work places that were mandated by state and federal laws after the Triangle Shirtwaist fire.

Information taken from the book Green Oasis in Brooklyn: The Evergreens Cemetery by John Rousmaniere. Learn more here.