Martin Scorsese’s film Gangs of New York, is based on a book of the same title, which was written to narrate events that occurred in the 1840s in New York. That was during the historically significant Irish potato famine that had killed many in Ireland and driven a considerable number to emigrate to America. Most of these immigrants entered the USA through New York harbor and then settled in the poor accommodations they could get at such slums like the ‘Five Point Slum’.
The existence of ‘Five Points slum’ is corroborated by such historical records as the writings of Charles Dickens, who paints a very descriptive image of life in such slums. The influx of new residents escaping the famine back in Ireland had created an overpopulated Five Points slum area which was only about five blocks in size (Asbury 269).
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In between these two events, the film explores a story line that is written around actual historic events and timelines. The setting for the film is faithful to historical occurrences and practicalities, but only up to a certain point. The film also follows its script written to entertainmen the viewer
Asbury, Herbert. “The Gangs of New York.” An Informal History of the Underworld (New York, 1927) (1928): 269.