The Story Behind New York City’s ‘Five Points’

Tom Blank of Weird History looks a the real history behind “The Five Points”, a now-bygone New York City neighborhood that was featured in the 2002 Martin Scorsese film Gangs of New York. While the film took some literary license with the environs, it wasn’t too far off regarding the gang activity in the impoverished area.

Martin Scorsese’s period epic Gangs of New York took up residence in the chaos-ridden New York City neighborhoods of the mid-1800s, populated by eccentric characters and vicious acts of aggression. Its depiction wasn’t entirely accurate, but it was based on a very real neighborhood and the very real misery it experienced.

The area was home to mostly Irish immigrants who clashed with native-born New Yorkers, as portrayed in the film.

Forming local street gangs and turning to crime became an increasingly appealing way to make a living. One such Irish gang was known as the Roach Guards, named for their founder and leader, Ted Roach…They frequently fought in the streets against a rival gang known as the Bowery Boys, made up of native born anti-immigrant New Yorkers. …Ultimately, a faction of the Roach Guards split off from the main group and renamed themselves The Dead Rabbits.

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