Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 527
But the lack of fire safety in Manhattan was also a problem of power.
The above quote may be succinct, but it is an extremely revealing statement that explains how Max Blanck and Isaac Harris got away with negligence. Essentially, the power structure in New York City protected key players like the insurance industry, wealthy industrialists, and factory owners.
By the early twentieth century, firewalls, automatic sprinklers, and fire stairs were readily available to all factory owners. However, few owners spent the money to install fire safety measures to protect their employees. For their part, insurance companies were focused to sell large, expensive policies to industrialists and factory owners. The safer a factory was, the less profit insurance brokers made.
As for Blanck and Harris, both paid exorbitant insurance premiums to their brokers. In exchange, the brokers looked the other way when it came to fire hazards at the Triangle factory. Although fires consistently broke out at their factory, the partners never had any problem purchasing all the insurance their hearts desired. Additionally, with the Tammany Hall political machine firmly behind them, the partners were well insulated against charges of negligence.
The rise of Blanck and Harris coincided precisely with the maturing of the garment industry.
The above quote highlights how the advent of the Second Industrial Revolution (or Technological Revolution) facilitated the proliferation of new factories in urban settings (such as New York City) at the beginning of the twentieth century. Harris and Blanck amassed great wealth because of the seemingly insatiable American appetite for ready-made clothing. Read about industrialization and urbanization during the Technological Revolution here.
The second industrial age not only facilitated the building of new factories, it also promoted the mass migration of workers to large cities such as Chicago, New York City, and San Francisco. As a result, real estate was either sold or rented at premium prices in the cities. To keep their options open, factory owners like Blanck and Harris resorted to leasing loft factories at the top of skyscrapers. The Triangle factory, for...
(The entire section contains 527 words.)
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