Is “Gangs of New York” Inspired by Real Historical Events?

If you love watching a historical drama film then you should watch “Gangs of New York, “directed by Martin Scorsese. It captivates the masses because of its interesting narrative as well as the celestial performance of cast members. Due to this, the film received extremely positive ratings and reviews from the masses.

It got 7.5 out of 10 on IMDB, 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 4 out of 5 on Common Sense Media. The unique storylines and realistic scenarios of the film make people wonder whether the “Gangs of New York” is based on a true story or not. Let’s find out through this exploration.


Directed by Martin Scorsese
Screenplay by
  • Jay Cocks
  • Steven Zaillian
  • Kenneth Lonergan
Story by Jay Cocks
Based on The Gangs of New York
by Herbert Asbury
Produced by
  • Alberto Grimaldi[1]
  • Harvey Weinstein
  • Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Daniel Day-Lewis
  • Cameron Diaz
  • Jim Broadbent
  • John C. Reilly
  • Henry Thomas
  • Brendan Gleeson
Cinematography Michael Ballhaus
Edited by Thelma Schoonmaker
Music by Howard Shore


  • Touchstone Pictures
  • Miramax Films
  • Alberto Grimaldi Productions
Distributed by Miramax Films (United States)
Initial Entertainment Group (International)

Release date

Running time

167 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $97-100 million
Box office $193.8 million

What is Gangs of New York All About?

“Gangs in New York” is a famous 2002 American historical drama film. It is directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, and Kenneth Lonergan. The central theme of the film is based on Herbert Asbury’s 1927 book The Gangs of New York.

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Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Cameron Diaz, along with Jim Broadbent, John C. Reilly, Henry Thomas, Stephen Graham, Eddie Marsan, Brendan Gleeson, and Liam Neeson are the film stars in supporting roles, who captivated the audience till the end due to their stellar performances.

is gangs of new york based on a true storyis gangs of new york based on a true story

Is Gangs of New York Based on a True Story?

The whole narrative of “Gangs of New York” is not based on the true story. This film was made by mixing some real-life stuff but fictional work to make the storyline more gripping so that it can successfully grab the attention of the masses. However, It does not visually depict what happened in history.

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The director took the ideas from real life and gave this film a pretend version of the real-life events-based movie. The fictional work was only the piece of imagination that weaved in the mind of the director and writer during the production of the “Gangs of New York.” Do not forget that it’s all about entertainment or drama not about the strict facts.

That’s why, “Gangs of New York” film took some true happenings from history and combined those stories with fictional work in order to showcase the evolving landscape of 1860s New York in which different communities faced challenges. Before proceeding further, take a look at: Is the plot of “A Simple Favor” based on true happenings?

What Are the Real Events Behind “Gangs of New York”?

The film “Gangs of New York” highlights the significant historical occurrence of the July 1863 New York City Draft Riots. It depicts a sense of favoritism towards wealthier residents, leading to violent protests by working-class individuals, notably immigrants.

Set in the authentic Lower Manhattan area of Five Points during the 19th century, the movie also addresses political corruption exemplified by the character of William “Boss” Tweed. Do not miss out on reading: Is Ghost of Tsushima based on true historical events?

Are the Characters in “Gangs of New York” Based on Actual People?

All the cast members of “Gangs of New York” portrayed their characters very well, as they all brought life to the characters because of their depth of emotions. Their stunning performance has made all the film’s scenarios so realistic. These characters are the art of fiction as well as historical figures.

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The main lead character of the series delineates the archetypes inspired by the socio-political dynamics of the bygone era. The characters are not taken from the true historical events. Therefore, these characters are designed through fictional work with historical inspiration for the purpose of making an intriguing narrative.

is gangs of new york based on a true storyis gangs of new york based on a true story

Who Are the Cast and Characters of “Gangs of New York”?

  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Amsterdam Vallon
  • Daniel Day-Lewis as William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting
  • Cameron Diaz as Jenny Everdeane
  • Jim Broadbent as William “Boss” Tweed
  • John C. Reilly as Happy Jack Mulraney
  • Henry Thomas as Johnny Sirocco
  • Liam Neeson as “Priest” Vallon
  • Brendan Gleeson as Walter “Monk” McGinn
  • Gary Lewis as McGloin
  • Stephen Graham as Shang
  • Eddie Marsan as Killoran
  • Alec McCowen as Reverend Raleigh
  • David Hemmings as John F. Schermerhorn

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  • Lawrence Gilliard Jr. as Jimmy Spoils
  • Cara Seymour as Hell-Cat Maggie
  • Roger Ashton-Griffiths as P. T. Barnum
  • Barbara Bouchet as Mrs. Schermerhorn
  • Michael Byrne as Horace Greeley
  • John Sessions as Harry Watkins
  • Richard Graham as Harvey Card Player
  • Giovanni Lombardo Radice as Mr. Legree
  • Tim Pigott-Smith as Calvinist Minister

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“Gangs of New York” represents historical facts to craft its narrative but the whole narrative is not based on the true story. Some fictional work is also done to make the movie more interesting so that it can captivate the audience till the end. The characters of the film are not the actual people involved in real events of the past but they all are fictional.

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