Gangs of New York by Herbert Asbury Essays

3476 Words Dec 26th, 2005 14 Pages
THE GANGS OF NEW YORK, written by Herbert Asbury, was used as the basis for the movie GANGS of NEW YORK, a gangster film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Leonardo DiCaprio. Filmed in Rome, Gangs covers a period of New York City's history, from the 1840's through to the bloody Draft Riots of 1863, at a time when graft and corruption permeated every level of government including the police department.
The movie's main plot revolves around revenge and the feuding between the gangs controlling the Bowery and the Five Points area of lower Manhattan and culminates with the Civil War draft riots. The two major political parties, Tammany Hall (Democratic based) and the Native Americans (Know-Nothing Party), used
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The area formed a "truncated triangle about one mile square" and was "bounded by Canal Street, the Bowery, Chatham" (now Park Row), "Pearl, and Centre Streets."1 Paradise Square, a small triangular park, was located between Anthony (now Worth) and Cross (now Park) Streets and converged into Orange Street (now Baxter). These slums no longer exist, having been replaced by city, state, and federal courthouses and the area known as Chinatown.
The origins of Five Points began around 1802 with a landfill that covered a foul pit of chemical and animal waste. In the 1700's lower Manhattan contained a large lake filled with an abundance of fish and surrounded by wild marsh lands teaming with birds and other wildlife. The lake became known as the Collect Pond and was very popular with fishermen and local residents who would picnic along the shores in the summer and skate on the ice in winter. It was a lovely place until the tanneries, breweries, and slaughterhouses moved in and caused massive pollution and contamination of the lake's water. In 1802 the city's Street Commissioner recommended that the Collect be drained and filled in due to the stench and health problems caused by the pollution.
The Collect landfill was completed by around 1812 and by 1813, the streets were laid out and the land speculators moved in, building two and one-half story wooden structures. Many were occupied by artisans and tradesmen who combined their

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