by Tyler Anbinder
Plume. 2002. 544 pp.
"In the 19th century, the Five Points district in lower Manhattan was New York City's most noxious slum, teeming with wretchedly poor Irish, German, Italian, and Chinese immigrants and African Americans who lived in densely packed rookeries sandwiched among dance halls, gambling joints, saloons, and brothels. Yet it was also humming with vibrant street life, popular theaters, and political clubhouses. Now largely forgotten, Five Points attracted many "slumming parties" and visiting celebrities such as Charles Dickens and even Abraham Lincoln. Anbinder (history, George Washington Univ.) has written a comprehensive narrative of this once blighted area. He argues that earlier accounts were superficial and biased, and he aims to set the record straight. To Anbinder, Five Points embodied the immigrant saga of enduring great hardship on the way to a better life. Recommended for public libraries with large urban history collections and academic libraries." Library Journal -- Harry Frumerman, formerly with Hunter Coll., NY.
by Wendy Wan-Yin Tan
Harper Collins, 2006. 384pp.
For a span of more than a century, New York's Chinese communities have grown uninterruptedly from three streets in lower Manhattan to five Chinatowns, over 100 street blocks, across the boroughs of Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. This book documents the changes through past-and-present photos." book description
by Daniel Ostrow
Arcadia Publishing, 2008. 128pp.
For generations of New Yorkers and visitors, Chinatown represents the very embodiment of exotica. With its ancient tenements, temples, fragrant food aromas, neon signs, colorful sites and sounds, and aromatic curio shops, it provides the ultimate journey of the senses, revealing an energetic and vibrant world. Through vintage postcards, Manhattan's Chinatown chronicles how this community has continually evolved over 150 years." book description
with Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, et. al., Martin Scorsese (director)
2-disc DVD, 160 minutes. [US] Rated R, [UK] Class 18.
Gangs of New York, the movie with DVD extras including commentary by director Martin Scorsese. A history of Five Points featurette. A behind the scenes tour of the sets at Cinecitta Studios with the set designer, A U2 music video. A Discovery Channel special "Uncovering the Real Gangs of New York" with Luc Sante. And a lexicon of criminal slang from the 1850's.
by Eric Homberger
Yale Univ Press, 1996.
"Homberger's theme, the struggle of mid-19th-century reformers to awaken a sense of community in laissez-faire New York, unfolds in four absorbing but largely independent essays. He focuses on Steven Smith, whose probe of typhoid clusters in the slums led to the creation of the Sanitary Board in 1866; Madame Restell, the abortionist who rose from poverty to residence at a Fifth Avenue mansion before the persecutions of Anthony Comstock drove her to suicide; "Slippery Dick" Connolly, the only member of the Tweed Ring to escape with his fortune; and Frederick Law Olmsted, whose design of Central Park represented the era's great attempt to reconcile the city's warring social classes. Homberger (American literature, Univ. of East Anglia) has a keen sense of historical irony, a remarkable command of 19th-century memoirs and journals, and a rare talent for drawing vivid characters acting on complex motives...." -- Library Journal
by Rocco Dormarunno
iUniverse. 2001, 168 pp.
"The Five Points neighborhood of 19th Century New York City was undoubtedly the most crime-ridden, impoverished, and dangerous place of its day. While people tend to think of this era as a glossy, golden age, it was, unfortunately, a world of unparalleled corruption, intrigue, and violence. Dominated by thieves, murderers, swindlers, brothels, and gangs with such colorful names as The Dead Rabbits, The Whyos, and The Plug Uglies, the neighborhood had long been a symbol of urban misery and toughness. This work, through two stories, attempts to bring this world back to life. You will meet: Petey Daley, the shrewd and fierce leader of The Dead Rabbits; Police Superintendent Connery, an honest cop struggling with a dishonest system; and Rudy and Ted, two con artists who know just what to do. Whenever novels and Hollywood try to tackle 19th Century America, they always seem to focus on the wild, wild West. Welcome, everyone, to the wild, wild Lower East Side." -- publisher.
by John Kuo Wei Tchen
Johns Hopkins University Press. 2001, 416 pp.
"Tchen describes how Americans have shaped perceptions of themselves by looking at others, most notably people of other races or "exotic" cultures. Focusing on New York rather than San Francisco, Tchen illuminates perceptions Americans held about the Chinese long before there were significant numbers of Chinese residents and shows how these perceptions colored expectations when the Chinese arrived in the mid-19th century... "J. Kleiman; University of Wisconsin Colleges
by Kevin Baker
HarperCollins, (hardcover) 2002, 688 pp.
"It may seem as if the Civil War has been done to death... But the author of the best-selling Dreamland (1999) wisely mines a relatively untapped Civil War vein: the devastating 1863 riots in New York City caused by President Lincoln's announcement of a draft... Baker's success as a historical novelist rests on his superb ability to bring contemporary understanding to consequential events of the past by creating fictional yet totally credible characters whose lives are deeply affected by these events. In this case, the people impacted by the disastrous riots include Ruth Dove, who lives in poverty in Lower Manhattan with her husband, an escaped slave, and their children ...Occasionally, the power of individual moments within the story almost outshines our sense of the novel as a whole, but even so, most historical fiction fans will relish the book's grand sweep as they savor its well-crafted parts." Booklist --Brad Hooper
by Luc Sante
Vintage Books. reprint 1992. 414 pp.
"Sante isn't interested in uplifting tales about New York's hardworking immigrants who pulled themselves out of the slums into the ruling classes. Instead, he's intrigued with New York's underworld, called the "Big Smear" by tramps, the wild and dangerous "circus and jungle" that was New York in the Bowery, Hell's Kitchen, and the waterfront between 1840 and 1919. Sante begins by describing the geography and physical history of Manhattan and then delineates the horrors of nineteenth-century slum living. Once he's sure his readers have the scene firmly fixed in their minds, he introduces the cast: street vendors, petty thieves, con artists, suckers, drunks, whores, gangsters, and crimps ("operators who specialized in drugging and robbing sailors"). ...Gritty and vivid social history conveyed with insight, irony, and panache." Booklist -- Donna Seaman.
by Jacob August Riis
Dover Publishers, reprint 1985, 233 pp.
"This is the first modern edition of Jacob Riis's classic work to follow, in both content and layout, the original 1890 edition. The only teaching edition that includes all 51 of the book's original illustrations, this volume provides students with the full impact of tenement life and the living conditions of New York City's immigrant poor in the late nineteenth century. An extensive introduction by David Leviatin—both a historian and a professional photographer—places Riis and his work in the context of turn-of-the-century urban reform. Also included are extensive gloss notes on the text, a chronology, questions for consideration, a bibliography, and an index." --publisher
The original 1890 version of Riis' work can be downloaded here.
by Herbert Asbury
Avalon Publishing Group. reprint 2001, 420 pp.
"...True to the title, the book is a history of crime both organized and not that permeated the dirty underbelly of New York City and its boroughs in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Some of these gangs were so vicious they would post signs warning police to stay out of their neighborhoods or else! The 1927 volume is the basis of Martin Scorsese's forthcoming film of the same name starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Titanic heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio, so make sure to have at least one copy on hand. This edition contains numerous illustrations and a foreword by Jorge Luis Borges." -- Library Journal
by George G. Foster (illustrator), Stuart Glumin (Editor), Stuart M. Blumin (Editor)
University of California Press, 1991, 251 pp.
"First published in 1850, New York by Gas-Light explores the seamy side of the newly emerging metropolis: "the festivities of prostitution, the orgies of pauperism, the haunts of theft and murder, the scenes of drunkenness and beastly debauch, and all the sad realities that go to make up the lower stratumthe underground storyof life in New York!" The author of this lively and fascinating little book, which both attracted and offended large numbers of readers in Victorian America, was George G. Foster, reporter for Horace Greeley's influential New York Tribune, social commentator, poet, and man about town. ...Editor Stuart M. Blumin has provided a penetrating introductory essay that sets Foster's life and work in the contexts of the growing city, the development of the mass-distribution publishing industry, the evolving literary genre of urban sensationalism, and the wider culture of Victorian America."
by Edwin G. Burrows, and Mike Wallace
Oxford University Press. 2000. 1350 pp. (PB)
"...By any standard, Burrows and Wallace, history professors at Brooklyn College and John Jay College, CUNY, respectively, have written a comprehensive and highly engrossing political, social, and cultural history of the Big Apple. ...All the familiar characters from Peter Minuit and Petrus Stuyvesant to Boss Tweed and J. P. Morgan appear on the grand stage, though the authors instinctively veer from the great man theory whenever possible, describing great women and lesser lights whose actions had profound influence in and beyond the city. It is a strategy that serves them well as they reveal the changing moods of the people and the effects of technological advances on all strata of New York society." --Frank Caso
by Kevin Walsh
Harper Collins, 2006. 384pp.
Author of Forgotten-NY.com comes out with his book about the bits of New York history most people have forgot about. The book "Forgotten New York covers all five boroughs with easy-to-use maps and suggested routes to hundreds of out-of-the way places, antiquated monuments, streets to nowhere, and buildings from a time lost." book description
by Ric Burns, James Sanders, Lisa Ades
Knopf. 2003. 640pp. (PB)
" PBS darling Ric Burns (brother of Ken) teamed up with James Sanders and Lisa Ades to produce this spectacular volume and the accompanying 12-hour series. Some 500 illustrations enhance the narrative, while essays by and interviews with prominent New Yorkers-- Robert A. Caro, Carol Berkin, and David Levering Lewis among them--highlight their visions of the metropolis, past and present. New Yorkers or not, readers will enjoy stories of how the city grew and changed over time--such as in 1699, when the old Dutch city wall was torn down and a later-to-be-famous street laid out in its place; or in a 10-day period in 1930, when 14 new floors of the Empire State Building were erected. Along the way, the authors debunk a few myths: the Dutch didn't really pay only $24 for Manhattan, and no immigrant's name was known to have been changed by the Ellis Island inspectors--though the ships' manifests they were consulting may have been incorrect." --Sunny Delaney for Amazon.com
by Edward T. O'Donnell
Broadway Books, 2003. 352pp.
"O'Donnell ... trains his historian's eyes on one of New York's greatest but little-known disasters-a 1904 steamboat fire that killed more than 1,000 people. He leaves no aspect of the General Slocum tragedy unturned as he lays out the life of the New Yorkers around the turn of the century who became major players in the ship disaster as well as the significant role newspapers played in shaping public opinion. ... He also recreates the panoply of emotions on that June day ... With an eye toward today's tragedies, he shows how victims felt little solace from investigations, which became largely an attempt at scapegoating the ship's captain. In O'Donnell's deft hands, the disaster becomes more than just a historical event-it's a fascinating window into an era, a community and the lives of ordinary people." -- Publisher's Weekly
by David Von Drehle
Atlantic Monthly Press, 2003. 352pp.
"It was a profitable business in a modern fireproof building heralded as a model of efficiency. Yet the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York City became the deadliest workplace in American history when fire broke out on the premises on March 25, 1911. Within about 15 minutes the blaze killed 146 workers-most of them immigrant Jewish and Italian women in their teens and early 20s. ... Journalist Von Drehle (Lowest of the Dead: Inside Death Row and Deadlock: The Inside Story of America's Closest Election) recounts the disaster-the worst in New York City until September 11, 2001-in passionate detail. ... Von Drehle's engrossing account, which emphasizes the humanity of the victims and the theme of social justice, brings one of the pivotal and most shocking episodes of American labor history to life." -- Publisher's Weekly
by Hasia R. Diner
Princeton University Press. 2000, 240 pp.
"Quarantine (physical, social, or mental isolation) is the book's focus. The author shows how politicians of the 1890s tried to restrict immigration by attributing epidemics to certain immigrant groups. The first part of the book addresses an epidemic of typhus, which was imported into New York's Lower East Side by Russian Jews who were fleeing persecution in several European cities. Health department employees forcibly removed persons from their homes to the quarantine hospitals and later prevented ships in New York Harbor from discharging passengers. The second part of the book addresses the cholera epidemic that occurred a few months after the typhus outbreak. These two epidemics galvanized many who wanted to restrict immigration. Part three considers quarantine legislation and focuses on conflicts among federal, state, and local government officials with regard to public health." David Hinthorn, MD, Annals of Internal Medicine
by Hasia R. Diner
Princeton University Press. 2000, 240 pp.
"Yiddish is a near-dead language. Anti-Semitism, once openly expressed, is now frowned upon, at least publicly. Many American Jews feel threatened by the drive for assimilation. Thus, for many Jews, including those outside of New York, the Lower East Side conjures up an image of a lost world and elicits a wistful nostalgia. Diner is professor of American Jewish history at New York University. Of course, she examines the Lower East Side as it actually existed, and that reality included considerable squalor, disease, and hopelessness. But she is also concerned with the creation of a "memory culture." In that culture, this predominantly Jewish neighborhood was a shining light of Jewish homogeneity, where Jews could be "fully Jewish," untainted by assimilation, suburbanization, and ascension to the middle class. This is both an enjoyable and an important contribution to local and ethnic history." Jay Freeman, Booklist.
by Ronald H. Bayor, and Timothy J. Meagher
Johns Hopkins University Press. 1997, 767 pp.
"...New York has been both port of entry and home to the Irish for three centuries. During that time, America's premier city has undergone massive changes, and the Irish--one of the country's oldest ethnic groups--have played a vital part in its history. A joint project of the Irish Institute and the New York Irish History Roundtable."
by Gerard T. Koeppel
Princeton Univ Press, 2001. 376pp.
"From its founding as New Amsterdam in 1624 until 1850, Manhattan was plagued by two disasters that killed thousands of residents and caused millions of dollars of damage: unrestrained outbreaks of infectious diseases ... and uncontrolled fires that destroyed blocks of stores and residences. The reason: no clean water supply. Koeppel, a former editor at CBS News, has written a vivid history of how Manhattan finally got reliable drinking water. Relying on primary documents, diaries, personal histories and maps, he charts the internecine schemes and failed business ventures to alleviate the island's water problems... Though it lacks a strong narrative drive, Koeppel's graceful history is written with a wit and intelligence that will please fans of urban history. " --Publishers Weekly
by Iver Bernstein
Oxford Univ Press on Demand, 1995. 384pp.
"In this vividly written book, Iver Bernstein tells the compelling story of the New York City draft riots. He details how what began as a demonstration against the first federal draft soon expanded into a sweeping assault against the local institutions and personnel of Abraham Lincoln's Republican Party as well as a grotesque race riot. ... Bernstein shows that to evaluate the significance of the riots we must enter the minds and experiences of a cast of characters .... Along the way, he offers new perspectives on a wide range of topics: Civil War society and politics, patterns of race, ethnic and class relations, the rise of organized labor, styles of leadership, philanthropy and reform, strains of individualism, and the rise of machine politics in Boss Tweed's Tammany regime. " -- book description
by Jeff Kisseloff
Johns Hopkins Univ Press, 2000. 664pp.
"In You Must Remember This, Jeff Kisseloff brings together 137 New Yorkers who witnessed daily life in Manhattan from the 1890s to World War II. ... We hear a survivor's account of the harrowing Triangle Shirtwaist fire as well as tales of the sweatshops, the settlement houses, and the immigrants from around the world who poured into the Lower East Side at the turn of the century. There are vignettes of John Reed, Louise Bryant, Eugene O'Neill, and Edna St. Vincent Millay. We read of the bloody beginnings of the seamen's union and, down the street from the docks, visit with Thomas Wolfe and Edgar Lee Masters in the Hotel Chelsea. ... Throughout the book, Kisseloff engages us in a unique conversation between an all-but-bygone time and our own. " --book description
by Timothy J. Gilfoyle
W.W. Norton & Company, 1994.
by Amy Gilman Srebnick
Oxford Univ Press, 1997. 240pp.
"In 1841, beautiful, Connecticut-born, 21-year-old Mary Cecilia Rogers disappeared from her mother's New York City boardinghouse; her badly bruised body was found three days later in the Hudson River. Speculation flourished that she was brutally raped by a gang, or killed by a lone assassin. Later testimony indicated that she had died in a botched abortion. ... Amid hysteria over crime, New York City passed the Police Reform Act of 1845, allowing closer social and political surveillance; the same year, a state law criminalized abortion. In a mesmerizing, superb study, intriguingly illustrated with period engravings and woodcuts, Montclair State University history professor Srebnick uses the Rogers saga to throw a floodlight on sexuality in antebellum America, women's history, urban mass culture, the rise of the popular press and the birth of detective fiction." -- Publishers Weekly
NYC Chinatown Index |
Links & Resources |
Storefront Photos | Historical Photos | Bookstore | Directory | Image Usage Policy | E·mail