Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tenement Talks: Five Points

Courtesy of
Ever wonder about the Lower East Side's seedy history? Make sure to join us tonight at Tenement Talks as we're thrilled to host Tyler Anbinder, historian and author of Five Points: The 19th-Century New York City Neighborhood That Invented Tap Dance, Stole Elections, and Became the World's Most Notorious Slum.

A lovingly thorough history of one of the most vibrant, corrupt, and bustling neighborhoods ever, Five Points was groundbreaking upon release and introduced many readers to a place few knew even existed. The New York Daily News proclaimed that Anbinder "so thoroughly re-created Five Points that the stench of life there all but rises from the pages."

In Five Points, the author painstakingly recreates the lives of those who lived in modern-day Chinatown, predominantly impoverished African Americans, Irish, Jewish, German, Jewish, and Italians who sought a better life amidst the chaos of street riots and crime.

As notable writers of the time, including Charles Dickens, wrote gruesome tales of the slums, the murderous and rollicking Five Points quickly gained a world-famous reputation. "While Americans may have considered Five Points repulsive," Anbinder notes, "they found it fascinating as well."

In his novel, Anbinder finds the truth within the incredible tales of the depraved roots of New York City and explores the regular lives of immigrants who survived and thrived there. From religion to politics and work to play, the book creates a fully immersive portrait of a neighborhood that had "more fighting, drinking, and vice than almost anywhere else; but also more dancing and nightlife, more dense networks of clubs and charities." And, of course, he also explores the end of the era and the origins of Little Italy and Chinatown.

So, whether you're a history buff or have never even heard of the incredible Five Points, a neighborhood that helped shape New York City today, remember to stop by tonight - the Museum Shop, 108 Orchard Street at Delancey -- to join us for this event. RSVP at and we'll kick things off at 6:30 pm.

- Posted by Joe Klarl

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