Gaetana Midolo and Commerce Street

On the recent anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire I posted about a young victim, Gaetana Midolo, who lived near me on Commerce Street. Some believe that she lived at 143 Commerce Street because that’s what it says on her death certificate. But Commerce Street only goes up to #50. It may have once gone further, but not in 1911. On an 1854 map it ends at the same place it ends now, at Barrow Street.

I found a 1913 picture showing this, and here is a side-by-side comparison. I didn’t get the angle exactly the same, but it’s close! Amazing how little is changed 101 years later.


As I said before, I suspect Gaetana lived at 14 Commerce Street and some tired, harried, possibly distraught city employee inadvertently added an extra number to her death certificate.

That house on the far corner at the right, which is identical to the one next to it, (and there are a lot of stories about these two houses, #’s 39 and 41) has been gutted. Someone is completely redoing the inside. Perhaps they had no choice, but I hope some things were salvaged and will be incorporated into the renovation.


Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

6 thoughts on “Gaetana Midolo and Commerce Street

  1. Hi Stacy,
    A friend sent me your page and I appreciate keeping the fire from being forgotten.
    Like you, I lived across the street from the Triangle and got caught by the story of a young lady named Esther who was due to married the following Saturday. I wrote a song for her timeless story. If you have a moment take a listen,

  2. I see you have a Triangle project yourself! How did you become interested? Oh no, are you descended from someone who died in the fire?

  3. No, I’m not a descendant of the victims of the Triangle. My interest is born from a legend that circulated in Italy on the origins on March 8 and the International Women’s Day. In this legend it was said that Mr. Johnson, a owner of the factory named Cotton, that locked their workers who went on strike for working conditions, and he set the fire to the factory to punish them. This is an untrue story that led me to discover the truth and the true story of the Triangle.

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