America’s first true melting pot was a run-down Manhattan neighborhood called the Five Points. It was a cheap slum that lured in the poorest and least fortunate: sweatshop workers, immigrants, and newly-freed slaves, all trying to scrape by side-by-side through some of the worst living conditions in the United States.
It was far from peaceful. Five Points was a place where life was short and violent, where race riots would regularly break out, and where diseases spread like wildfire. It was a place of thieves, brothels, and intense poverty – and the place where the original gangs of New York were formed.