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The plight of two immigrant families who endure abysmal, and dangerous, tenement and workplace conditions, including the tragic inferno at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.
The Kellys and the Gottliebs landed on Ellis Island much like the millions of hopeful citizens before them; with great expectations for their new life in America. Their anxiety quickly grew. Both families discover a world of dark, abysmal tenements on the lower east side of New York City, which was the most congested area in the world. Anna Kelly, 16, and Lena Gottlieb, 15, eventually escape the daily misery of tenement life for the harsh conditions of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory , the world’s largest producer of shirtwaists – where unsafe, 70-hour work weeks were common.
On an early, warm spring day in 1911, the last possible escape from a raging fire, at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, was through the 8th and 9th floor windows. The tyrannical Triangle owners locked work floor doors to keep out union representatives, which they thoroughly detested. 146 young people perished that day. Their death would finally expose the corruptive practices of a “broken system” where sweeping changes had to be implemented. The inspiring plight of the American immigrant is vividly portrayed on the, “Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears.”