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New York's rise from a small dutch village on the tip of Manhattan island to the largest and, arguably most powerful city in the United States can be partially credited to the city's role as the starting point for all immigrants to the country. Even before Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty existed, New York was the starting point for all sorts of immigrant groups, from the Irish to the Jewish. As the city grew and moved further up the island, the lower sections of the city became filled with tenement buildings where the poor immigrants lived. The center of much of these lower class neighborhoods was the Five Points, the intersection of Park, Worth and Baxter. It acted as the center of what was the Lower East Side in NYC during the 19th Century.

As this neighborhood was deemed suitable for only the lower classes, it was poorly taken care of, the housing was atrocious, fires were common and people lived in terrible conditions. It was surrounded by sweat shops, where the cheap immigrant labor was abused. But the best known feature of the Five Points area was the houses of prostitution. Here was something men of all classes could enjoy (sarcasm intended). In the meantime the women, and some small boys, were the ones pleasuring their upper class clients. It was also a good place to go to get drunk and gamble during America's puritanical years (have they actually ended?). Otherwise "respectable society" avoided this area like the plague

In general, this was the are where gangs, criminals and other people interested in illegal and "immoral" activities hung out. And, once Tammany Hall was able to get over its anti-immigrant bias, it was the power base for the political machinery of New York City who controlled the city (as well as much of the state and country's) politics for the better part of a century. They used the immigrants to buy and bully votes out of the rest of the city and thus, kept a strangle hold on politics.

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