Many of the eminent literary figures of the mid 19th century had visited the Five Points including Charles Dickens, Herman Melville, and Walt Whitman. Dickens wrote: "This is the place; these narrow ways diverging to the right and left, and reeking everywhere with dirt and filth. Such lives as are led here, bear the same fruit here as elsewhere. The coarse and bloated faces at the doors have counterparts at home and all the world over. Debauchery has made the very houses prematurely old. See how the rotten beams are tumbling down, and how the patched and broken windows seem to scowl dimly, like eyes that have been hurt in drunken frays."...."Where dogs would howl to lie men and women and boys slink off to sleep, forcing the disloged rats to move away in quest of better lodgings. Here, too, are lanes and alleys paved with mud knee-deep; underground chambers where they dance and game.....all that is loathsome, drooping, and decayed is here."*
The following are links to the variety of books available at Amazon.com pertaining either to the Five Points exclusively, crime culture, or to early New York City history in general.
The official website for the film also has a great deal of information and historical references.
An interview with the Tyler Anbinder, author of Five Points, and Jay Cocks, screenwriter of Gangs of New York. They talk about the fact and the folklore behind the movie Gangs of New York and what the Five Points area was really like. Click Here.
The following is an hour long interview with Gangs of New York film maker Martin Scorsese and actor Daniel Day-Lewis. Mr. Scorsese at one point talks about his intial interest in the story of Gangs of New York by Asbury.