Gangs of New York

All but forgotten today, Five Points was once renowned the world over. It existed just south of present day Chinatown at the base of Mott Street, just north of the Federal lower Manhattan featured America's most wretched poverty, shared by Irish, Jewish, German, Italian, Chinese, and African Americans. It was the scene of more riots, scams, saloons, brothels, and drunkenness than any other neighborhood in the new world. Yet it was also a font of creative energy, crammed full of cheap theaters and dance halls, prizefighters and machine politicians, and meeting halls for the political clubs that would come to dominate not just the city but an entire era in American politics. From Jacob Riis to Abraham Lincoln, Davy Crockett to Charles Dickens, Five Points both horrified and inspired everyone who saw it.

The Gangs of New York fictionalizes real characters and places them in Five Points at the same time. Despite the fictional aspect of the film, it does depcit the awful reality of lower Manhattan


Step One:

Please answer the following questions in your jounral book after watching the first part of Gangs of New York;

  1. Which details of the Five Points shown in the film shocked you the most? Crate a list of these items.
  2. Describe anything you saw in the film that seemed unreal or not true to you?
  3. What do you think of the accents you heard in the film?
  4. Understanding that we can not watch the entire film in a single class, what do you think of the film so far?

Step Two

Please answer the following questions in your jounral book after watching the Gangs of New York;

  1. The Gangs of New York depicts the New York Draft Riots. According to the film, what caused the riots?
  2. Describe how New York has changed since the time era depicted in the film?
  3. Now that you have seen the entire film, what do you think about it? Was it too long or too dark? What did you think about the music? Were the 'right' actors chosen to play the parts they played? (It's okay to be critical of the film).
  4. What lasting impressions do you have of the film?



About the movie (

About the five points (

Suggested readings:

Five Points by Tyler Anbinder

Low Life : Lures and Snares of Old New York, by Luc Sante

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