David Von Drehle

Why the Triangle Fire Matters Still

The spirit of the early 20th century was, simply put, the spirit of Progress. New Yorkers who, as children, read by the light of whale oil lamps and crossed the East River by wooden ferryboat now crossed over bridges aglow with electric lights, as if riveted with diamonds. A generation earlier, the tallest structure in the city was a church steeple; now new skyscrapers were topping out at the rate of one every five days. Humans could fly and pictures could move.