Brown Building

STATUS Designated Individual Landmark

23-29 Washington Place

ARCHITECT: John Woolley

DATE: 1900-11

STYLE: Neo-Renaissance

East Village Manhattan Neo-Renaissance

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

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