Saturday March 25th, 1911 was the first warm day of spring and a lot of people were out in Washington Square Park or walking home from work. Back in those days, Saturday was a full work day. At 4:30 in the afternoon, people in the park began to notice smoke coming out of the Asch Building (now called the Brown Building and owned by NYU). A fire had broken out in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, a clothing company on the top three floors.
Before the introduction of child-labor laws, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company employed hundreds of young seamstresses often as young as 14, and a large number still in their teens (the general age of employees ranged between 14 and 25).