October 2023 issue contents - Columns
‘Butcher’ wasn't from the Five Points
Hollywood relocated notorious ruffian
By Thomas Hunt
Due in large part to Martin Scorsese’s popular 2002 film, Gangs of New York, many have mistaken impressions of Lower East Side gangland history. One of the movie’s (many) distortions was putting character William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting in command of a Civil War Era, Tammany-employed, Five Points-based gang of Americanborn thugs.
The Cutting character from Scorsese’s movie was based on the real “Bill the Butcher” Poole and had a number of similarities with Poole (possibly including the single disabled eye). However, Poole wasn’t around during the Civil War. And he certainly was not a Five Points underworld chief. He wasn’t from there. He wasn’t known to have spent any time there. According to some biographies, he wasn’t even originally from New York...
Magazine page count: six pages.