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The 1910's
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.44

     challenging words:    investigation, bolts, inferno, burning, union, further, tragedy, generation, leading, provided, ninth, reform, death, affected, pursue, stairway
     content words:    Maria Santangelo, New York City, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Isaac Harris, Max Blanck, Shirtwaist Factory

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The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
By Jane Runyon

1     Life was looking up for Maria Santangelo. She had left her family and home in Italy almost a year ago. She had been living with her aunt and uncle in New York City since she had arrived in America. Their apartment was small. Now eight people lived in that small space. Maria had tried to find a job right away. She had gotten odd jobs cleaning apartments and waiting on people at the corner grocery. It was 1911, so none of these jobs paid her enough to live on her own. Then in January, her luck had changed. She was able to get a job as a seamstress at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in lower Manhattan.
2     Maria could earn $6 a week working at the factory. She could even earn some extra money by doing piece work on the weekends. During her first week at her job, Maria had met another girl almost her own age. She had also come to America from Italy. Angelina also wanted to find a place of her own. Over the next few weeks, Maria and Angelina had become fast friends. They decided that if they put their money together and worked very hard, they would be able to afford a small apartment just a few blocks from their workplace.
3     Yes, things were looking up for Maria. She and Angelina were set to move into their new home on the first day of April. Today was Saturday, March 25th, so they didn't have much longer to wait. Each girl giggled as quitting time drew near. Tonight they were going to begin packing their few belongings for the move. The quitting bell rang at 4:45 pm. As the girls headed toward the stairway leading down to the street from their 9th floor workplace, someone yelled "Fire!" That was the beginning of one of the worst tragedies to ever occur in American industry.

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