The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, one of America’s most horrific industrial accidents, happened 100 years ago today, on March 11, 1911. Though New York City’s fire department arrived on the scene within two minutes of the call, the fire at this “modern” high rise at the corner of Washington Pl. and Greene St. still claimed the lives of 146 people, most of them young women and teenage girls. Some were burned, some died of smoke inhalation, some were crushed pushing for the exits, some fell from a faulty fire escape, and some jumped nine stories in an attempt to escape the flames.

It was a catastrophic, once-in-a-lifetime failure of what were considered more than ample emergency response systems. No one could have possibly anticipated. . . .