Gangs of New York (2002)





The 2002 film Gangs of New York shows the impact of the Civil War in new contexts, bringing to life the rivalry between Protestant and Catholic gangs in New York City that climaxes during the infamous Draft Riots of 1863. The film showcases tensions between these religious groups and between Irish and freed African Americans competing for jobs. It also illustrates the diversity of life in the North during the Civil War era.

Gangs of New York was generally well-reviewed among both historians and critics. Historians found the film to be true to the mood and atmosphere of the era, though the film dramatized or omitted certain details. Critics also found the film to be captivating in its stories and performances.




Herbert Asbury, The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld, Garden City: Garden City Publishing Co, 1928.

Anthony Gronowicz, Race and Class Politics in New York City Before the Civil War, Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1998.

Edward Spann, Gotham at War: New York City, 1860-1865, Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, 2002.


Michael Meneghetti, “Fearsome Acts of Interpretation: Audiovisual, Historiography, Film Theory and Gangs of New York,” Film-Philosophy 21, no.2, (Summer 2017).

Richard Oestreicher, “How Should Historians Think about ‘The Gangs of New York’?,” History Workshop Journal 56 (Autumn 2003).

Daniel Walkowitz, “‘The Gangs of New York:’ The Mean Streets in History,” History Workshop Journal 56 (Autumn 2003).

Film Reviews

Roger Ebert, “Gangs of New York Movie Review,” Roger Ebert, December 20, 2002.

A.O. Scott, “Film Review: To See a City Seethe,” The New York Times, December 20, 2002.

Peter Bradshaw, “Gangs of New York Review,” The Guardian, Jan 9, 2003.

Peter Travers, “Gangs of New York Review,” Rolling Stones, December 20, 2002.

Scott Tobias, “Gangs of New York Review,” AV Club, January 22, 2003.



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