New York: City of Riots! 

Illustrated by Aaron Meshon

With the Great Blackout of 2004 and the Not-So-Great Subway Strike of 2005, New Yorkers have had their fair share of recent rioting opportunities — maybe we’re getting soft. Though incidents of civil unrest are too numerous to list, the four riots below each marked turning points in the city’s history.

The Astor Place Riots 1849
Patriotic Bowery boys kick up a fuss at the casting of an Englishman in Macbeth, at the Astor Place Opera House. Yes, it was a riot about Shakespeare.

The Draft Riots 1863
Angry at being forced into the Civil War, Irish mobs attack a black fruit vendor at Broadway and Chambers. Five days of citywide mayhem ensue.

The Stonewall Riots 1969
Fed up with being raided (and mourning the recent death of Judy Garland) a group of feisty queens at the Stonewall Inn on Sheridan Square resist arrest en masse. The confrontation escalates to some 2,000 neighborhood residents in conflict with over 400 cops, and is now seen as the catalyst for the gay rights movement.

The Tompkins Square Park Riots 1988
In an effort to “clean up” the park, police clash with homeless squatters to make way for condos and tapas. Despite the videotaped beatings of numerous bystanders, no cops are punished.


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