Thursday, April 14, 2011

Yeah, I clearly need to watch more stuff. . . but I've been reading!

American Experience: Triangle Fire (Loved It)--OK, I LOVE history. I almost majored in history, but I wanted something more practical, so I majored in Microbiology & minored in Chemistry. But, history became a hobby. I love to read about it, watch documentaries, historical films, just about anything to learn about the past. This documentary from PBS's series American Experience is one of my favorites.

If you don't know about the Triangle Fire, it occurred on March 25, 1911 in Manhattan off of Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. I've been there, I've seen this building where a fire claimed 146 lives. I don't know how I first became familiar with the fire, but the story has been an interest of mine for years. With the centennial of this tragic event, there has been more interest and so more coverage. This fire helped to change America. It lead to child labor laws, workman's comp, workplace safety, and other advances that we now take for granted.

This documentary spells it out in 53 short minutes, but they pack a punch. I am also reading a book on this event, David von Drehle's, "Triangle: The Fire That Changed America". The author was one of the consultants on the documentary. It's a sad and tragic story, but one that should not be forgotten. It was the worst workplace disaster in New York history until 9/11 and was the 4th worst event of this type in the history of the nation at the time. Young Jewish and Italian immigrants (123 of them women), some as young as 14 had to burn before people would take notice and help with workplace safety and justice for the working class people. It occurred during the Gilded Age which is one of my favorite time periods, the huge immigration from Europe, the staggering poverty eclipsed by unbelievable wealth and the old not having caught up with the technology. Issues that in some ways we are dealing with in today's world. And if we don't remember the past, we are doomed to repeat it. This story is largely forgotten and it needs to be remembered.

Watch this story. It's hard to watch but so worth it. There are parts of the story that show amazing bravery and heartbreaking loss, but I highly recommend it. It can be streamed on Netflix and it can be DVR'd if you look for it.

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