Family members and friends of victims gathered at a vigil Wednesday night to commemorate the 25th anniversary of a social club fire that killed almost 90 people. At the time, it was the biggest mass murder in U.S. history.
On March 25, 1990, a Cuban refugee named Julio Gonzalez tried to win back the woman who had spurned him. Gonzalez entered the Happy Land social club in the Bronx, which was humming with people — mostly immigrants — partying and dancing. His former live-in girlfriend, Lydia Feliciano, was checking coats, and they had a virulent argument. Gonzalez was thrown out.
In a rage, he returned just after 3 a.m., splashing gasoline on Happy Land's only guest exit and lighting two matches. Then he pulled down the metal front gate.
Within minutes, 87 people were dead.
.The fire was the worst in New York City since 146 workers died in a blaze at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in what is today's Greenwich Village. They were killed exactly 79 years earlier on March 25, 1911