On March 25, 1911, one of the most infamous incidents in American industrial history occurred after a dropped cigarette started a fire on the eighth floor of this building. The 200 sewing operators on the floor above scrambled to escape as the fire quickly spread around them. The stairwell commonly used to exit was blocked by fire and smoke, so many filed out the window onto a fire escape before their weight caused it to break off of the building, sending them falling to their deaths. The small elevator was crammed with as many as could fit, making 4 trips before breaking down. The last exit for escape was a stairwell that led down to the street, but was locked shut to prevent stealing. Trapped and too far up to be reached by the fireman’s ladders, many jumped to their deaths. In the aftermath, 146 people were dead from either the fire and smoke, falling down the elevator shaft, or falling to the sidewalk. Most of the victims were Italian or Jewish immigrant women aged 14 to 23. The tragic event led to a huge outcry over the working conditions that had caused the fire and prevented escape. Following the event and protests, New York State would enact legislation to safeguard the health and safety of workers. These laws would end up serving as models for national labor and safety reform. Today, the building still stands and is part of the NYU campus.