Five Points – Paradise Square

“All that is loathsome, dropping and decayed is here” is the description Charles Dickens wrote in 1842 about Five Points.1 As you walk in the Civil Center of New York City today, you are surrounded by giant Classical structures, whose pillars and steps lead into court rooms of New York City. Further north is Columbus Park which is a center of social life in Chinatown. Below these structures lies the remnants of Five Points, which was razed and flattened in 1811. Two hundred years ago, where Orange Street (Baxter), Cross Street (Mosco), Anthony Street (Worth) met, it formed “Paradise Square” the famous intersection that signified you were in Five Points and the Sixth Ward, the most notorious district in the world during the mid-19th century. Five Points was an area of working class people and immigrants, known for the vices such as drinking, prostitution, and gambling that could be found in abundance there. In his tour of Five Points, Dickens wrote, “nearly every house is a low tavern…lances and alleys, paved with mud knee-deep, underground chambers, where they dance and game, …hideous tenements which take their name from robbery and murder.”2


  1. Charles Dickens, American Notes for General Circulation,
  2. Charles Dickens, American Notes for General Circulation,   

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