From the tail gang to the Gopher gang, these are the remarkable photos of the real-life gangs that ruled New York at the end of the 19th century.
For nearly a hundred years, these infamous gangs, collectively known as the Five Points gang, practically ran the city and made its New York neighborhood one of the deadliest in the world.
Under his rule, Five Points gained international notoriety for having the highest murder rate of any slum in the world and the stories of violent clashes between gangs in conflict became legendary.
This incredible collection of images shows 19th-century mobsters who inspired the Martin Scorsese & # 39; Gangs & # 39; of New York & # 39;
The Montgomery Guards, an Irish-American gang that took its name from an old Irish-American militia, imagined relaxing on the docks near the Five Points. The original Montgomery Guards were an Irish-American militia company that was formed in Boston in 1837 and were forced to disband the following year due to the extreme nativist and anti-Catholic sentiment in the city.
The Gopher Gang, an Irish-American gang that, in its heyday, controlled most of Manhattan, represented around 1910, when the authorities intensified their efforts to gentrify the Five Points. Based in the Irish neighborhood of Hell & s Kitchen, Gopher Gang went on to control most of Manhattan with its territory ranging from Fourth to Forty-second Street and Seventh to Eleventh Avenue. The gang declined its power in the decade of 1910 and finally it was almost destroyed in 1917 with the death of its leader and the arrest of its leading figures.
Mulberry Bend, one of the most dangerous areas controlled by Five Points gangs represented in 1896 at the height of the influence of gangs in the area. The original street has now been changed in design and has been replaced by Mulberry Street. The area was the original home of several of the most dangerous Irish gangs in Five Points that lived in the narrow-walled buildings that surrounded the bustling main street.
The images show violent thugs like gangs of short tails that were known to the police as hard drinkers and thieves.
You can also see an Irish-American group known as the Gopher Gang at the top of their power and groups of young people stealing drunken men in New York at the beginning of the 20th century.
Five Points was a nineteenth-century neighborhood in the area now known as Lower Manhattan in New York City. Sometimes considered the original American melting pot, this decaying district of Manhattan became the center of settlement for the poorest and least fortunate immigrants. Irish, Italian and Eastern European immigrants and freed black slaves settled in Five Points.
Gaming halls and brothels were numerous in the Five Points area, and it was considered a dangerous destination, where many people had been assaulted, particularly at night, and where racial unrest frequently broke out. In 1842, Charles Dickens visited the area and was dismayed by the terrible living conditions.
At the height of the occupation of Five Points, only certain areas of the East End of London competed with him in the Western world because of population density, diseases, infant mortality, prostitution and crime.
Five Points was a place where life was short and violent and the place where the original New York bands formed.
A gang of children demonstrates how they make their living stealing drunken men who have fainted in the middle of the street. Pick-pocketing was one of the main rackets controlled by gangs in the Five Points that would divide the booty of successful robberies. Alcoholism and poverty went hand in hand in the neighborhood, which meant that crude techniques such as images were devastatingly effective and allowed thieves to get rid of crime easily.
A busy street scene outside a hatter shop in the Five Points district of Manhattan in 1880, when gang violence was at an all time high. Although the neighborhood was shrouded in suspicion and criminal activity, there were a number of legitimate companies that worked together with organized crime syndicates. Stores like these hat shops lined the busy shopping streets, which were both a center for criminals and local business leaders
A photo of the crime scene in Bottle Alley, the headquarters of Whyos Gang Irish-American. The & X # 39; denotes where the police discovered a corpse. A man's body was discovered in the alley behind an apartment building at Five Points. According to local sources in a building known as "Old Brewery", there was at least one murder per night at the height of the gang's power.
Members of Five Points Gang, an Italian-American gang founded around 1880, whose later members included the most famous gangster of all time: Al Capone. After becoming a predominantly Irish neighborhood during an immigration wave in the 1860s, the Five Points found a new Italian influence pushed into the area with a new wave of arrivals in the 1880s. Some of the new Italian immigrants had connections within the mafia and were experienced crime bosses in their old country.
Organized criminal gangs, such as the Bowery Boys, the Dead Rabbits, the Short Tails, the Gopher Gang, Whyos Gang and Montgomery Guards, appeared throughout Manhattan.
Each group had its own way of letting people know who they were standing with. The Bowery Boys, a gang composed mainly of firefighters, would come out with red shirts and top hats; the Short Tails came out with their shirts uncovered and the Irish Dead Rabbits would come out with a rabbit stuck in a stick.
Meanwhile, the Whyos – an Irish-American criminal group that ranged from pickpockets to assassins – had an unmistakable gang cry that sounded like a bird or an owl screaming "Why! Oh! & # 39; so that people know they were on the street.
All the Five Points gangs competed for the control of the revenues generated by illicit activities and the fights would be triggered in the majority of the cases.
Five Points gangs turned their neighborhood into one of the most lethal places in the world. It was said that they had the highest murder rate of any lower quarter in the world. According to the legends, the most dangerous building, a house called "Old Brewery", saw a murder every night.
The Short Tail Gang, a violent group of thugs and one of the most feared Five Point gangs, was known to the police as "hard drinkers, highway robbers and thieves". They were recognizable in the streets around Five Points because of their distinctive style of dressing. You can see here with their characteristic short-tailed coats that gave the band their name
One of the four men who share a single cellar underneath a tenement house, around 1880. Poverty abounded in the Five Points among newly arrived immigrant communities. The noted Danish-American photographer Jacob Riis, a friend of Theodore Roosevelt, took photos of the impoverished communities of New York City to try to raise awareness of the extraordinary deprivation they suffered.
Bandit's Roost, now Mulberry Street, an alley where gangsters and thugs would congregate in the district (pictured in 1896) Jacob Riis, who took this photo, called Bandit & # 39; s Roost & # 39; the most vile and the worst that can be found anywhere & # 39; Riis identified a home in his Bandit & # 39; s Roost photo as 59 ½ Mulberry Street, the Columbus park area of New York where people now sit on benches and warm in the sun.
Members of Whyos Gang, Irish-American. Top row from left to right: Baboon Connolly, Josh Hines and Bull Hurley. Central row from left to right: Clops Connelly, Dorsey Doyle and Googy Corcaran. Bottom row from left to right: Mike Lloyd, Piker Ryan and Red Rock Farrell. The Whyos were called that because they called each other and shouted "why" on the street to be identified as gang members.
Above all, it was nationality and race that turned the Five Points gangs into adversaries. Riots and fights broke out between the anti-Catholic hardcore Bowery Boys and the Irish Dead Rabbits.
In a brutal two-day battle, approximately 1,000 people took to the streets of New York to fight, hitting each other pointlessly and looting their homes. By the time the blood dried up, eight men had died and up to a hundred others were injured, an event that inspired Martin Scorsese's 2002 film, Gangs of New York.
For a century, these notorious gangs ruled their neighborhood, but in the early 1900s, Five Points was shot down piece by piece. The politicians clamored for him to tear himself apart with one who tells his electorate: "This bed of infamy, this modern Sodom, is located in the heart of your city!"
The old brewery plagued with crimes was demolished, missionary houses were taken away and, little by little, the face of the city changed.
The gangs of Five Points split and slowly faded into history. These images recall his notorious legacy.
Four homeless men lay unconscious on the steps of a dilapidated house in Five Points around 1880 when the neighborhood was the most impoverished
Inside a tenement house in Hell's Kitchen where several women and men crowd into a small room and are forced to wrap them in several layers to protect them from the cold
A shoemaker who takes a break from making shoes and eating bread inside a tenement house in Five Points, New York City, around 1880
Illegal housing in the neighborhood that crammed residents for the price of five cents per place, despite the fact that there was limited space on the floor
Women are housed inside the local police station during a typhus epidemic in the 1880s. Diseases were common in the Five Points due to poor living conditions
A busy street scene at the Five Points during the 1890s, when the dilapidated housing developments began to be replaced by more permanent structures and shops.
This modern image is taken when the center of the Five Points neighborhood used to be in the 19th century, now a bustling area of Lower Manhattan.