NYC: Five Points and the Immigrant City

In-Person Walking Tour

Gone but hardly forgotten, Five Points, in Lower Manhattan, was a hive of crime, corruption, and poverty in the 19th century (as shown in the film Gangs of New York). Adjacent to Mulberry Bend and Bandit’s Roost, images of these twisting streets and slums are forever captured in photographer Jacob Riis’ groundbreaking work, How the Other Half Lives. The depicted poverty in his photos scandalized social reformers. The neighborhood was visited in 1842 by the novelist Charles Dickens and presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Despite these attempts at reforms. Five Points was renowned for its riotous gangs, gambling dens, crowded tenements, and houses of ill-repute.

Architectural historian Matt Postal will lead Royal Oak into this once notorious location and explore its ever-changing history. He will talk about the history of the neighborhood when it was mostly Irish, paying particular attention to how the streets were transformed by progressive social policies, as well as the subsequent arrival of Italian, and later Chinese immigrants. We will begin our exploration in front of the Italianate-styled New York County Court, now known as the Tweed Courthouse, then will traverse Foley Square and visit Collect Pond Park. Next, stopping to view The Tombs, a monumental 1930s Art Deco jail complex designed by Harvey Wiley Corbett, we will explore Columbus Park, containing landscape architect Calvert Vaux’s final work, a restored 1897 pavilion.


Thursday, October 12 | 10:30 a.m. ET

Meeting Place: Southwest corner Centre Street and Chambers Street, across from Municipal Building

$40 members; $50 non-members

Register for In-Person Tour

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