141 MEN AND GIRLS DIE IN WAIST FACTORY FIRE;
TRAPPED HIGH UP IN WASHINGTON PLACE BUILDING;
STREET STREWN WITH BODIES; PILES OF DEAD INSIDE
The Flames Spread with Deadly Rapidity Through Flimsy Material Used in the Factory.
600 GIRLS ARE HEMMED IN
When Elevators Stop Many Jump to Certain Death and Others Perish in Fire-Filled Lofts.
STUDENTS RESCUE SOME
Help them to Roof of New York University Building, Keeping the Panick-Stricken in Check.
ONE MAN TAKEN OUT ALIVE
Plunged to Bottom of Elevator Shaft and Lived There Amid Flames for Four Hours.
ONLY ONE FIRE ESCAPE
Coroner Declares Building Laws Were Not Enforced--Building Modern--Classed Fireproof.
JUST READY TO GO HOME
Victims Would Have Ended Day's Work in a Few Minutes--Pay Envelopes Identify Many.
MOB STORMS THE MORGUE
Seeking to Learn Fate of Relatives Employed by the Triangle Waist Company.
--The New York Times, March 26, 1911
The article itself conveys a lot of the horror of the tragedy, and I think you'd be hard-pressed not to think a little of 9/11 when looking through it.
27 MORE IDENTIFIED IN MORGUE SEARCH
Bodies of 28 Fire Victims are Still Unclaimed--Some Burned Beyond Recognition.
THOUSANDS IN THE LINE
Morbid Sightseers Driven Away When Discovered--Women Again Collapse Beside Their Dead.
--The New York Times, March 28, 1911
The article itself describes the line of people to try to identify the dead--as alluded to, some people just came to try to see what they seemed to consider an interesting spectacle. The article also printed descriptions of those who weren't identified, very close to the style others used to describe bodies they found in the water outside Titanic the next year.
The disaster inspired some labor reforms (which frankly make me really grateful for my job--just 40 hours a week!):
SHORTER FACTORY HOURS.
Law Forbids Working Women and Boys More Than 54 Hours a Week.
--The New York Times, October 1, 1912
The proprietors got away with it, and didn't even seem to learn their lesson. (The article goes on to help explain some of the causes.)
CENSURES TRIANGLE CO.
Fire Prevention Inspector Finds it Still Disregards Regulations.
--The New York Times, December 24, 1913
And if you can believe it (and this turns my stomach):
SETTLE TRIANGLE FIRE SUITS
$75 Each the Price in 23 Brought for Deaths and Injuries.
--The New York Times, March 12, 1914
The girls weren't making much money, granted, but some of the dead had as much as $800+ (!) in cash on their person. The Inflation Calculator says $75 is $1,586.94 in 2009 dollars.
Lots more text articles at Cornell University's site.
The initial article references the General Slocum disaster, which I'd never heard of before. It was a ferry disaster on June 15, 1904, that killed about 1,012 people, though I don't think many people have heard of it today.
1,000 LIVES MAY BE LOST IN BURNING OF THE EXCURSION BOAT GEN. SLOCUM
St. Mark's Church Excursion Ends in Disaster in East River Close to Land and Safety.
693 BODIES FOUND -- HUNDREDS MISSING OR INJURED
Flames Following Explosion Drive Scores to Death in the Water.
---FIERCE STRUGGLES FOR ROTTEN LIFE PRESERVERS
--The New York Times, June 16, 1904
In numbers, that's a lot closer to the 1,517 people who died in the Titanic, than the Triangle disaster.
There's more information at: