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JAMA 100 Years Ago
March 23 2011


JAMA. 2011;305(12):1248. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.289

Once more the drowsy conscience of the country has been shocked broad awake—for a moment—by horror. One hundred and forty-one human beings, most of them women and young girls, have met a frightful death through the indifference or greed—or both—which controlled their fates. What gives added poignancy to the ghastly tale is the fact that we knew it all before. The “fireproof building,” packed with tinder and human fuel—the inadequate fire-escapes—the locked doors, piled high with dead—every detail of the tragedy has been rehearsed over and over again; the stage is set even now in hundreds of places for its repetition. It is said that the Asch building, where this fire broke out, is only one out of many in Greater New York where such a catastrophe might have occurred; that New York is not unique in this respect, scores of cities in this country can bear shamed and sorrowing witness.