The 19th-century New York City Neighborhood That Invented Tap Dance, Stole Elections, and Became the World's Most Notorious Slum
All but forgotten today, the Five Points neighborhood in lower Manhattan was once renowned the world over. It housed America's most impoverished immigrants-the Irish, Jews, Germans, Italians, and African-Americans. Located in today's Chinatown and Little Italy, Five Points played host to more riots, scams, prostitution, and drunkenness than any other neighborhood in America. But it was also crammed full of cheap theaters, dance halls, prizefighting venues, and political arenas that would one day dominate the national scene. From Jacob Riis to Abraham Lincoln, Davy Crockett to Charles Dickens, Five Points horrified and enthralled everyone who saw it.
Drawing from letters, diaries, newspapers, bank records, police reports, and archeological digs, award-winning historian Tyler Anbinder has written the first history of this remarkable neighborhood. Beginning with the Irish potato famine influx in 1840 and ending with the rise of Chinatown in the early 20th century, the story of Five Points serves as a microcosm of the American immigrant experience.
Baker & Taylor
Details the notorious neighborhood that was once filled with gaming dens, bordellos, dirty streets, and tenements, that welcomed such visitors as Charles Dickens and Ambraham Lincoln, and brings to light the hidden world that existed beneath the squalor--a world that invented tap dancing and hosted the prize-fight of the century. Reprint.
Blackwell North Amer
"The very letters of the two words seem, as they are written, to redden with the blood-stains of unavenged crime. There is Murder in every syllable, and Want, Misery and Pestilence take startling form and crowd upon the imagination as the pen traces the words." So wrote a reporter about Five Points, the most infamous neighborhood in nineteenth-century America, the place where "slumming" was invented. All but forgotten today, Five Points was once renowned the world over. Its handful of streets in 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 story that Anbinder tells is the classic tale of America's immigrant past, as successive waves of new arrivals fought for survival in a land that was as exciting as it was dangerous, as riotous as it was culturally rich.
From Library Staff
An eye-opening chronicle of poverty in New York's infamous neighborhood.
From the critics
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