View Full Version : Gangs of New York - Question...

December 26th, 2002, 04:18 AM
I saw the movie "Gangs of New York" tonight, it was a very interesting picture. I especially liked the closing scene! *Does anybody know how historically accurate this movie is?

December 26th, 2002, 08:19 AM
It's debated...


December 26th, 2002, 11:44 AM
There have been several History Channel specials on the topic, as well as an entire book on the Five Points. *There was indeed a gang called "the Dead Rabbits," and there were also serious draft riots in NYC in the 1860's, where some estimate several thousand people died. *Having seen Gangs of New York, I must admit that the movie seems very authentic.

December 27th, 2002, 05:38 AM
I am very appreciative! * Thank you, Christian and Eugenius! *I love history, and this is so tantalizing!

December 28th, 2002, 05:35 AM
Are some of the old slaughterhouse buildings still in that area, or along the perimeter?

December 29th, 2002, 08:38 PM
The oldest buildings in the area are probably not older than the 1880's, which would make them too young for the Gangs of NY. *Furthermore, the meatpacking district at some point moved to the West Side, so I doubt that any East Side buildings functioned as slaughterhouses at any recent time.

January 3rd, 2003, 04:35 AM
I hate to be cynical, (actually I love to be cynical), but is this really the truth?

January 6th, 2003, 01:05 PM
I didn't read anything in the article that contradicts anything I've read about Five Points, although it's the first time I've heard about that much wealth.

Amigo, if you want to learn about early New York gangs, the significance of Five Points, and just about everything else about New York history then I suggest you pick up a copy of the book Gotham by Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace. Basically it is the history of New York City from the beginning until 1898. It is big and thick, but don't let that discourage you - it is well written, entertaining, and easily digested.

January 7th, 2003, 02:51 AM
Thanks! I appreciate your suggestion NYatKNIGHT, I will do that. *In my area, nobody ever even tried to teach NY local history, (which I always thought was kind of strange, since it is one of the founding cities of this country), they always stressed the local history of THIS area. *BLAH! *Redneck sentimentality.

(Edited by amigo32 at 2:53 am on Jan. 7, 2003)

January 10th, 2003, 06:31 PM
That's a real shame, because the 1863 draft riots depicted in the film were of national and historical importance. *I believe the draft riots remain the bloodiest urban uprising in American history.
Also, think about the situation: *The riots happened just after Gettysburg, incited by the US's first ever conscription act. *The Civil War (or War between the States if you're from Dixie) seemed like it might never end, and it was bloodier and costlier than anyone could have imagined. *There's fighting from Virginia to Texas, Martial law in the border states, and now the nation's most important city is in total anarchy. *What a mess. *

January 13th, 2003, 11:29 AM
You're right dbhstockton, it is curious how the most violent insurrection in American history is virtually unknown to most New Yorkers. Whether or not the film depicted it accurately it at least brought to attention to the mainstream the complex social, cultural, economic and political relations that led to the horrific bloodbath of the Draft Riots.

January 30th, 2003, 03:36 PM
Some interesting images of Five Points
from The Museum of the City of New York (http://www.mcny.org/)

Five Points, 1827

The Old Brewery (Baxter Street)

Worth Street, about 1870
Stereographic view

Baxter Street, 1873
Stereographic view

May 6th, 2003, 09:18 PM

TLOZ Link5
May 6th, 2003, 09:36 PM
Well, for one thing Boss Tweed wasn't in power until the 1880s. *As far as I can tell, there was no naval bombardment of the city to quell the uprisings.

And I think that there were only, like, twenty-five Chinese people, most certainly all men, in the city, as opposed to the large ethnic community that they featured in the movie.

Those were my main gripes, as well as the fact that many of the gangs featured in the movie had either disbanded or had not formed by the 1860s.

February 4th, 2004, 07:22 PM

February 5th, 2004, 03:03 AM
Christian, your two links are excellent resources. Thank you.

February 5th, 2004, 03:46 AM
At your service.

February 6th, 2004, 03:18 PM
I've just started reading the book Gangs of New York by Herbert Asbury...its dated but very interesting. Its strange to think how that barbaric underworld could turn into such a fantastic metropolis.