Gangs of New York History vs. Hollywood Essay

1120 Words 5 Pages
The movie begins in New York, in 1843, with a gang fight. Bill “the butcher” Cutting’s gang of “nativists” have challenged the “dead rabbits” (a gang of mostly Irish immigrants) to a fight to settle once and for all who is the most powerful gang in the area. After an intense battle the “nativists” win by killing the leader of the “dead rabbits”, also Amsterdam’s (the main character’s) father.
Amsterdam is then led into an orphanage where he grows to be a man, all while Bill Cutting runs the Five Points, and most of New York. The Five Points is a district of New York City and obviously the most corrupt. Crime is all to common, and sickness runs rampant in the area.
Although very underdeveloped, Amsterdam has sworn to revenge
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The ending scene is important because it puts the whole movie into perspective. You get so caught up in the fighting, and crime that you forget the big picture. With the Union Army’s actions it shows how weak and ridiculous the gangs in New York were. Simply, gangs were (and to some extent still are) nothing but a certain demographic joining in large numbers only to force their ideas on the majority. The scene also touches on the fact that presently no one remembers or cares about the gangs or the riots, furthering the idea of the pointlessness of it.

Historically speaking, the movie relates the United States history poorly. It has many accuracies historically, but the problems far outweigh them.
First though, the accuracies. The movie depicts the Five Points in New York as being poor, pestilent, and ugly. This is true to history. The district was doomed to slumhood from the beginning. It was erected on the filled-in Collect Pond, which was 60 feet deep and covered what would become four city blocks. In 1802, the city organized the adjacent Bunker Hill, to be leveled into Collect Pond. The job was finished in 1813.
The houses were built cheaply while the land remained marshy ,and dense with mosquitos. When the Irish began…

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