The Five Points: America’s First Melting Pot
Five Points is a Lower Manhattan historic district that came about in the 1800s. Earning its name from a five-pointed intersection that we know today sits within Baxter Street and Mosco Street, the area once lied within modern-day Centre Street, the Bowery, Canal Street and Park Row.
This former NYC neighborhood was once comprised of the districts we know today as Civic Center and Chinatown. It also took up residency among Manhattan’s African Burial Ground National Monument.
For more than seven decades, the Five Points was a notorious NYC neighborhood. Once internationally infamous for being am overcrowded, crime-ridden, disease-laden shantytown, the Five Points was labeled as America’s original melting pot. The cause for such infestation of disease including tuberculosis, typhus, cholera, and malaria was due to poor sanitation systems, overpacked living spaces and an absence of healthcare.
Gangs, Riots & Crime… Oh My!
In its hay day, the Five Points was said to have had the highest murder rate out of all the slums across the entire world. Additionally, the area was known for famous riots like the Anti-abolitionist riots of 1834 and the Dead Rabbits Riot on 1857.
Famous author Charles Dickens was once escorted into the Give Points by two policemen when he made a visit to New York City. Dickens detailed his visit colorfully in his book American Notes. You can read his excerpt about the Five Points here. Additionally, the Five Points was so notorious that it served as the setting of the 2002 film Gangs of New York, directed by Martin Scorsese.