Show Notes


Creating the dialects, idolects, and accents of the five points. Historical Language sleuthing. Daniel Day Lewis’ vocal performance.


“A drama, not a documentary.” The overstatements of the loose source book “The Gangs of New York.” Compressed timeframes. Framing the story of the “gangs of New York” through the lens of the Italian mobs of the early 20th century.


“The Great Famine” and “The Potato Famine.” Blight: not a fungus! Actually non-photosynthetic algae. Living on only potatoes: pretty doable! How the blight was delivered from America and was able to flourish under the seasoncal conditions in Ireland.

Coming to America

Migration of Irish into (mostly) New York City. Staying where you land because you lack the resources to move on. The conditions on the long boat ride over.

Old New York

New York: like now, but smaller and mostly woods and marshes etc. Draining and filling the stinky sewage lake to make a place for the five points. American growth and the spoilage of nature.

The Five Points

Not as crimey as you heard! But, maybe just as grimey. Discerning quality of life in the five points from archaeology, correspondences, censuces, bank records, and other sources. Common people, eating meat; for every meal! Chain immigration.


Using the Irish vote. Competitive firefighting. Tweed’s truly impressive corruption.


Bill the Butcher. 19th century gang names. The dueling origin stories of the “Dead Rabbits.” Inter-linguistic phono-semantic matching.

Draft riot

History washing over local squabbles. Lynchings. Violently protesting the purchasability of draft vexceptions. Thge New York Times offices and machine guns and molten lead.


  • civil war, 
  • crime, 
  • dialect, 
  • gangs, 
  • historicity, 
  • history, 
  • immigration, 
  • ireland, 
  • irish, 
  • language, 
  • new york