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4. FIVE POINTS

Stereoscopic image of the Five Points, c1855-1875.
Robert N. Dennis Collection of Stereoscopic Views,
Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints
and Photographs, The New York Public Library, Astor,
Lenox and Tilden Foundations
"CITY of orgies, walks and joys,
City whom that I have lived and sung in your midst will one day make you illustrious,
Not the pageants of you, not your shifting tableaus, your spectacles, repay me,
Not the interminable rows of your houses, nor the ships at the wharves,
Nor the processions in the streets, nor the bright windows with goods in them..."
- City of Orgies (more...)

The city's most notorious area was the Five Points slum. Its streets, with nicknames like "Murderers' Alley" and "The Den of Thieves," harbored Irish gangs. In spite of the neighborhood's terrible poverty and fearsome reputation, many residents were hard-working citizens. In 1842, Whitman described them in a newspaper, the Aurora: "...not paupers and criminals, but the Republic's most needed asset, the wealth of stout poor men [and we will add women] who will work.(more...)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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