Tragedy at the Factory

March 25, 1911

I am at work getting ready to leave. My sisters, Ruby and Pearl, told me that they were going to pick me up from my work at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, because they have a surprise for me.

“ 5 minutes to go!” I quietly exclaim to my friend who is sitting at the bench next to me. As I say that a lantern crashes to the ground and sets a pile of discarded rags on fire. Our manager attempts to tame it with the fire hose, but to no avail, the nozzle has been rusted shut. I ran out, along with the hundreds of other panicking girls. When I got outside I frantically look for my sisters, where I told them to wait on the sidewalk. I heard the clanging of a crashing fire escape, and then the screams of dozens of girls fell with it. I looked up to the burning building, and the sky heavy with smoke. I turned my attention back to finding my sisters when an explosion brought my attention back to the building. I saw girls in the windows burning, screaming for god’s mercy to help them. Someone jumped as a last resort, followed by a thud, and another. Thud, THUD, 30 more girls fell wanting the soft embrace of death to take the burning pain away. I looked up toward the 9th floor where the girls were falling from and I saw them, my sisters, terrified, eyes bulging and fire snapping behind them like a dragon.

“PEARL!” I scream as loud as I could hoping she would see me “PEARL!” Just then Ruby appeared next to her, her clothes burning and catching her hair.

“RUBY NO!” I screamed as she climbed the ledge. “PEARL CLOSE YOUR EYES, CLOSE YOUR EYES SWEETHEART, DON’T LOOK!” I shout to pearl, not wanting her to see her sister jump to her death.


“NO!” I screamed racing toward the building only to be held back by an officer. “THEY’RE MY SISTERS, LET ME GO!” I scream through tears.

In the window flames were right on Pearl’s tail, ready to set her ablaze.



I fall to my knees with her, and the world slows down; I’m helpless. I look to see where they fell, I see their bodies limp and cold just hoping they would move, but they didn’t. After it was all over and the fire put out, I ran over to where they fell, now buried beneath the ash and other bodies. I hold them in my arms telling them that it would be alright. It’s Pearl’s 7th birthday today, so I sing to her. I tell them the stories of a beautiful place, a place where they’ll go now, where they will be happy and that I’ll meet them there one day. When we first got into NYC, Ruby and I gave Pearl a necklace with three pearls on it. We had saved our money for 5 months so we could afford both the necklace and boat tickets. We gave it to her on her birthday the day we left Italy exactly one year ago. It was so special to her she only wore it on her birthday, it’s around her neck now just as cold as she.

145 girls died today, and I lost both my sisters. Today will be the day things change, a light will be shown upon these terrible conditions. The locks will be thrown away, the wages will be raised and the health of the workers will matter. For my sisters, so that no one else will have to live through such a tragedy like this again. Today is the day, I will make things change. Pearl and Ruby will not be swept under the carpet, they will be remembered, they will be the force behind the change.

About Emma Cunningham 429 Articles

Emma Cunningham is a senior at Clayton A.Bouton High School.