This Day In History, March 25th

What happened on this day in history: A devastating fire breaks out at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York, Yoshiko Kawashima is executed by the Republic of China, and more.

421 C.E.: Venice Is Founded

The city of Venice is founded at noon when the first stone of the church of San Giacometo is placed, according to legend. Though no historical records survive, March 25th is still celebrated today as the traditional birthdate of the city. Legend also says that the original population of Venice was made up of refugees from Roman cities who were fleeing invasions from Germanic tribes. In 2021, the city officially celebrated its 1,600th birthday.

1306: Robert The Bruce Is Crowned King Of Scotland

Robert the Bruce is crowned king of Scotland. Scottish people looked to Robert the Bruce as the force that would free them from English tyranny under Edward I, otherwise known as “Longshanks.” After Edward I died en route to crush Bruce’s forces, Bruce easily defeated Edward’s heir and granted independence to Scotland. More years of fighting between Bruce, the Scots, and English forces would occur, but Scotland maintained its independence until 1707.

1911: The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

Wikimedia CommonsFirefighters battle the blaze that killed 146 factory workers.

A massive fire breaks out at a factory building in New York City’s Greenwich Village, killing 146 garment workers. The victims were mainly girls and young women, most of whom were Jewish and Italian immigrants.

Those in charge of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory had locked all of the doors that led to exits to prevent workers from taking unauthorized breaks, so many of the deaths occurred when employees jumped from windows to escape from the spreading flames. The incident led to stricter safety regulations and a push for improved working conditions.

1948: Yoshiko Kawashima Is Killed

Yoshiko Kawashima

Wikimedia CommonsA highly-publicized photo of Yoshiko Kawashima’s body following her execution.

Chinese princess Yoshiko Kawashima is executed as a traitor by the Republic of China after they discovered she’d been working as a spy for the Japanese Army. Though Kawashima was born in China under the name Aisin Gioro Xianyu, the daughter of a prince, she was put up for adoption after the Qing dynasty was overthrown and raised in Japan.

As an adult, she began disguising herself as a man and spying for the Japanese, but she was eventually arrested and charged with treason. Kawashima was executed with a bullet to the head at age 40.

1990: The Bronx Happy Land Fire

Happy Land Fire

National Fire Protection AssociationThe 1990 Happy Land fire was the worst blaze in New York City in 80 years.

A fire at the Happy Land social club in the Bronx kills 87 after patrons become trapped inside. The club had been ordered to close previously due to lack of fire exits or a sprinkler system, but it continued to operate without a license.

On the night of the fire, the ex-boyfriend of one of the club’s employees poured gasoline across the building’s only exit and ignited it. Victims reportedly tried to punch through a hole in the wall in an attempt to escape, but only five or six of those who were inside at the time the fire broke out survived.