"Brick-bats, stones, and clubs were flying thickly around, and from the windows in all directions, and the men ran wildly about brandishing firearms. Wounded men lay on the sidewalks and were trampled upon. Now the Rabbits would make a combined rush and force their antagonists up Bayard Street to the Bowery. Then the fugitives, being reinforced, would turn on their pursuers and compel a retreat to Mulberry, Elizabeth and Baxter streets." - New York Times, July 1856
Of all the great cities in the world, few personify their country like New York City. As America's largest city and best known immigration gateway into the country, the Big Apple represents the beauty, diversity and sheer strength of the United States, a global financial center that has enticed people chasing the "American Dream" for centuries.
However, for all the promise and opportunities America seemingly held out, and for all of the nostalgia and pride the country's history invokes among Americans today, the simple truth is many never climbed the ladder. Hundreds of years spent trying to eradicate poverty has resulted only in gradual improvements, firm evidence that poverty will never be erased and poor people will be left to their own means of survival. That is how slums are born and maintained, and that is the story behind Five Points and the gangs that ruled it. The neighborhood's colloquial nickname came from its famous five-pointed intersection, created by Orange Street (now Baxter Street), Cross Street (now Mosco Street), and Anthony Street (now Worth Street).
In many ways, Manhattan's notorious Five Points neighborhood represents the best and worst of the American Dream.
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors