Five Points, the area near Columbus Park in downtown Manhattan so lovingly portrayed in The Gangs of New York, is nowadays part of Chinatown. The movie faithfully shows you the violence, squalor, filth, and poverty of The Points, but it missed the vibrancy of NYC’s melting pot. In the movie, Leonardo DiCaprio and Liam Neeson are Irish immigrants who are tormented by the English gang led by Daniel Day Lewis.
But the Irish and the English weren’t the only onesjostling for room in Five Points. Emancipated African slaves were part of the neighborhood’s mix. Tap dance, a fusion of Irish reels and jigs with the African shuffle, was created here from the competition between African and Irish entertainers for the audience’s attention in the music halls.
The slum was razed at the end of the 1880s.
Today, Chinatown attracts people of all kinds who love living amid the bustle of a working neighborhood and who love authentic Chinese food. The rents here are some of the highest in the city because it’s a popular neighborhood, even though many of the buildings are old tenements from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
UPDATE: Look at the photo below: Irish steppers in the Bronx in 2008! You gotta love New York. I love this photo.
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