Five Points: A History of the Bloody Ould’ Sixth

Posted on: September 14th, 2012 at 11:33 am by and

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The Five Points in 1859, view taken from the corner of Worth and Little Water St. (1880)

Approaching its fifth week on television, Copper continues to explore the landscape of Five Points-era New York City. Our own resident historian, Allison Siegel, is following the show closely, and has contributed some of her expertise to BBC America’s official Copper blog.

In Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, the character of Bill “The Butcher” offered a poignant description of the area:

“Mulberry Street… and Worth… Cross and Orange… and Little Water. Each of the Five Points is a finger. When I close my hand it becomes a fist. And, if I wish, I can turn it against you.”

Five Points also touted a less flattering nickname, Bloody Ould’ Sixth, thanks to its location in the Sixth Ward and the area’s alleged murder a night. A reporter for the New York Evening Post wrote of Bloody Ould’ Sixth:

They had a dreadful fight upon last Saturday night,
The papers gave the news accordin’;
Guns, pistols, clubs and sticks, hot water
and old bricks,
Which drove them on the other side of Jordan.
Then pull off the coat and roll up the sleeve,
For Bayard is a hard street to travel;
So pull off the coat and roll up the sleeve,
The Bloody Sixth is a hard ward to travel I believe.

-New York Evening Post, “The Dead Rabbits Immortalised”, July 10, 1857

Read the full story on BBC America’s website

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