Deep in the heart of Chinatown lies a street with a very violent history which has garnered it the nickname of The Bloody Angle; the deadliest street in American history. Doyers Street is a very short and narrow street bent at nearly a 90 degree angle which is something you don’t see much of in New York City.
New York has always been a home to various immigrants from across the globe and by the 1880’s enough Chinese immigrants had settled on Mott, Pell and Bayard Streets that it became the beginnings of Chinatown. Doyers Street was the little shortcut right through those streets.
The tenements then held gambling spots, pool halls, prostitutes and opium dens. Initially there was a peace between the Tong gangs on Doyers Street with part of it being declared neutral ground until one event started the bloody gang wars which used guns and hatchets! The use of hatchets supposedly is how the expression “hatchet man” came to be.
In 1909 the gang wars escalated after the brutal murder of a woman. Two accused men were tried but acquitted. It wasn’t until around 1913 that there was some peace in the area. The curved and narrow street now welcomes tourists and teems with restaurants, hair salons and places to buy souvenirs.
Walking along the busy narrow streets today there are no traces of its violent past, only people going about their daily lives.
And art on Doyers and Mott Street.
(Read more about the history of this area here and here. )
Really interesting to read that. It seems like Hong Kong in the old days with gambling dens, drugs, sex trafficking. Turf gangs…but now Hong Kong is less overtly seedy…gone underground with police pressure but I guess in Boston it still has clout. The character of Chinatown appears very strong in Boston!
I don’t know about the Boston Chinatown as I only walked past it but this one in New York has settled down very much from it’s rougher days.
This looks just like Hong Kong!
This is a fascinating history and I love the pictures.
Thanks and every place has some kind of story I suppose.