The Brown Building (originally Asch Building), a loft building constructed for Joseph J. Asch in 1900-01 which housed the Triangle shirtwaist factory on its top three stories, is significant for women’s and labor history as the site of the Shirtwaistmaker’s Strike of 1909, the first large-scale strike of women workers in the country, and the Triangle Fire of 1911, one of the worst industrial disasters in American history.
On March 25, 1911, when a fire erupted on the eighth floor of the Triangle factory and spread to the floors above, locked doors and inadequate fire escapes contributed to the deaths of 146 workers, many of whom leapt to their deaths. This tragedy stunned the nation and became a catalyst for a broad range of reforms.
Over the next few years, New York City and New York State adopted a battery of new laws to protect the public from fires and ensure the health and safety of workers. The new laws were the most advanced and comprehensive in the country and served as models for other state and local ordinances and for the federal labor legislation of the New Deal era. After the fire, the building’s neo-Renaissance facade remained largely intact.
STATUS Designated Individual Landmark
“I don’t know what the City would be without HDC. [They] testified before LPC time after time and helped us focus on the right issues. We would not be an historic district without HDC! ”
Doreen Gallo: DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance
“Use HDC as a resource because they know what they are doing and can offer advice on how to go about creating a district from every front: architectural, political, LPC, and the media. I had floundered prior to my involvement with this invaluable organization.”
Fern Luskin: Lamartine Place Historic District; Friends of Lamartine Place & Gibbons Underground Railroad Site
“HDC provided guidance and shared information during that process—we knew which Council members were going one way or another and we changed a few minds. I don’t think NoHo would have had as cohesive a district had it not been for HDC’s aid.”
Zella Jones: NoHo Historic District; NoHo East; and NoHo Extension
“I remember Richard saying at a meeting, we have someone here from HDC, Nadezhda Williams, Director of Preservation and Research, to help us. She said to us, ‘You are not the only ones going through this.’ HDC included us in an enormous community”
Erika Petersen: West End Preservation Society