There are some (quite tangential) family associations with the Five Points area. In 1853 my great-grandfather arrived in New York with, as my father said, "$5 and a steamer trunk." By the end of the century he was a successful man: prosperous, influential, and well-respected. A search of the New York Times archive yields 531 articles in which he figures, including 58 which he wrote himself. All cast him in a favorable light. Earnest, good-natured, progressive, and reform-minded, he did well for himself, his family, and the community in which he lived.
Many other immigrants landed in New York in the early 1850s. Steamships and sailboats of the time crowded hundreds of them into their steerage compartments. Few, practically none, of these hopeful arrivals made good like my great-grandfather. Many of them were shunted into Five Points and other dreadful slums and others put in massive effort to avoid that fate. There's no telling exactly why my great-grandfather's outcome was so different. Education was certainly a factor. Before his family suffered a severe financial setback, he was able to obtain a good education, including a couple of years at a famous high school, the Catholic Gymnasium Paulium, said to have been founded by Charlemagne in the eighth century. Many arriving immigrants had been given the addresses of relatives in New York, but my great-grandfather was fortunate in having a handful of them, enough so that where one or another disappointed, yet one more proved helpful. A final set of factors is my great-grandfather's optimism, his self-confidence, a sense of ambition coupled with a belief in caution and probity, and an unshakable belief in the great potential for personal and financial success that America offered one who was both prudent and bold.
Arriving on the SS Hermann in 1853, he struggled with poverty and loneliness during his first months in the city. He contacted relatives whose addresses he had been given before leaving his family's home in Germany, but they proved to be at best unhelpful and at worst unkind. One, his cousin Philip Frankenheimer, who ran an importing business at 257 Broadway — only about three blocks southwest of Five Points — gave him a cold shoulder.
Over the next few months, he tried selling merchandise door-to-door, worked in a factory in Brooklyn, and served as a clerk for a grocer on Vesey Street in lower Manhattan. Finally, reaching the end of his meager resources, he spoke with another cousin, Henry Lefman, with whom he hit it off and who gave him a recommendation for a job as clerk in a store. I do not know the address of the store, but Lefman's importing business was located at 242 Washington St., a bit further from Five Points, but still only a short walk to the west.
A few years after this tender beginning, when my great-grandfather had managed to pull together some capital of his own, he joined with a friend and fellow German immigrant, Alfred Roelker, to begin a business handling imports from the old country. Their office, as it happens, was even closer to Five Points, a mere block from its south-western boundary at 20 Reade St. As he became more and more successful, he branched out into insurance and banking, yet, from 1865 when he first moved into it until his death in 1913, he continued to use this office as his home base for business activities.
Lefman and Frankenheimer were not the only relatives in the vicinity. A cousin, Bernhard Sutro, had set up the office of his importing business a block away at 268 Broadway.
Although Frankenheimer, Sutro, Lefman, Roelker, and my great-grandfather all happened to have offices fairly close to Five Points, there's no evidence that they had any dealings there, went slumming there, or sought entertainment there.
It is certain, however, that after building a home in Woodside, Queens, in 1867, my great-grandfather passed through or by Five Points in his daily commute — on foot — from home to office and back. If he ever recorded his impressions of the place, his words haven't come down to me. However, two years after his arrival, while still only 19, he did send his German relatives a letter in which he described the whole city as it appeared to him. Translated from the German, it tells them,
I wandered through the streets of the metropolis where you see the greatest poverty and the greatest luxury. New York is a great city and not without justification is called the Empire City. The best products and the most beautiful works of art created by the civilized world find a market here. The flags of every nation are represented in the harbor and I believe that every nation or people on this beautiful earth is found on the streets of New York. The Spanish with their grandezza, the French with their inexhaustible politeness, the reserved Dutch, the attentive Chinese, the British with their decisiveness, all these nationalities are represented here. How amazed you would be if from your quiet Münster you would find yourself transported to Broadway, the premier street of New York. Your ears would become deaf from the noise of wagons which are all bunched up but still move in an orderly fashion; your eyes would become blind from the wealth and luxury of the Italian marble. You would be astonished to see the busy populace which runs as if it needed to reach the end of the world.With the spectacle of New York before him, it's unlikely that Five Points held more than passing attraction for him. Unlike most of the outsiders who showed up there, he took no prurient interest in the residents' low life and did not feel impelled to convert them from their evil ways to an evangelical truth it was his mission to impart. Nor was he a night-prowling "sporting man." He was not addicted to gambling or blood sports, was not a tavern-drinker, and, so far as anyone in our family knows, was not one to frequent brothels. He was interested in reform politics and did campaign against the corruption that took hold in Five Points and spread throughout the city, but he did not concern himself directly with the corrupt dealings in Five Points' Ward 6 elections.
This map of lower Manhattan in 1847 is marked to show Five Points and some of the locations associated with my family. In Manhattan, 20 Reade St., 268 and 257 Broadway, 242 Washington are labeled. My great-grandfather's home in Woodside, Queens, is in the north-east corner.
 These are the Mulberry posts:
- Mulberry Street 1900
- Mulberry Street, again
- a tenement on Mulberry Street
- five-cent den on Pearl St.
 Late in life, he was subject of many Who's-Who style biographic sketches which spoke of his early experiences in New York. Here are a few excerpts:
1. WINDMUELLER, Louis, merchant and importer, was born at Mueuster, Westphalia, about 1836. After studying for a while at the Catholic college of Muenster, pecuniary difficulties compelled him to leave before graduating, and he resolved to emigrate to America. In 1853, therefore, he came to New York, landing in that city without money and with no acquaintances to assist him in finding means of support. He had an iron will, fortunately, and went to work courageously and with so much success, that by the year 1858 he had an established business of his own. At the age of 12 he had written a school essay on "Why America Finally must Become the Principal Stage of the World's History."
-- The National cyclopaedia of American biography
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography: Being the History of the United States as Illustrated in the Lives of the Founders, Builders, and Defenders of the Republic, and of the Men and Women who are Doing the Work and Moulding the Thought of the Present Time
Publisher J. T. White company, 1893
2. Louis Windmuller born in Westphalia, received his education in the Catholic College of Munster. To his regret, circumstances compelled him to abandon his favorite studies for the mercantile career, and he resolved to emigrate, at the age of seventeen. He always had a predilection for his country. At the age of 12 he wrote at school an essay "Why America Finally must Become the Principal Stage of the World's History." He believes to this day that it will, with New York as it commercial centre. Landing here in 1853, he served as clerk in various branches of trade, his first situation being in a dry goods establishment, where he earned $4, while he paid $3 a week for his board. Shortly before the panic of 1857, he began trading for his own account, first in a small way, and after his marriage in 1859, on a larger scale. He commenced soon to import goods on commission, and continues to do so ever since. He often had to work early and late; by his application to business and the promptitude with which he met engagements, he soon established a good reputation, and weathered all the financial storms through which this country has passed.
-- The University Magazine, New York, (published by the University Magazine, 70 South St., NY), Volume 9, 1893, p. 547
3. Louis Windmuller. Coming to New York city in 1853 with about $15 in his pocket and no acquaintances to assist him, he found work as a clerk in a store and within four years had succeeded so well that he established merchandising business of his own.
-- National Cyclopedia 1944
-- source: The University Magazine, New York, (published by the University Magazine, 70 South St., NY), Volume 9, 1893, p. 547
 On 24 February 1855 he wrote his family in Germany that some of the relatives whose names he had been given gave him a cold reception and others were unable to help him. Finally, he wrote, "I found a helping hand from my cousin Henry Lefman. And he is now the only one on whom I can depend. Without him I would be lost. Yesterday I received a position starting March 1 in a dry goods store on Broadway due to a recommendation from him."
 Here are extracts from the letter, translated from the German:
New York 24 February 1855
My dear Grandfather! My dearest Sisters! Dear Aunts and Uncles!
In keeping with my promise, I write today, three months after the day when I first touched American soil and describe the pleasant and unpleasant impressions which I have experienced during this time.
But first I have to complain that you neither answered my letter from Southampton from the 8th November nor the one sent from here on the 24th of this month. You cannot use the excuse that in the last letter my address was not altogether clear since you do have the addresses of my cousin Jacob Windmüller through the Kappels as well as the S. Frankenheimers & Sutros which you gave me before my departure. If in the future you still remain silent which I cannot explain, then I'll start writing to friends who will reply to my letters.
The unfriendly weather and the cold reception from our relatives which ... brought forth feelings of abandonment. ...
Sad, but not giving up my courage, I wandered through the streets of the metropolis where you see the greatest poverty and the greatest luxury. New York is a great city and not without justification is called the Empire City. The best products, the most beautiful works of art created by the civilized world find a market here. The flags of every nation are represented in the harbor and I believe that every nation or people on this beautiful earth is found on the streets of New York. The Spanish with their grandezza, the French with their inexhaustible politeness, the reserved Dutch, the attentive Chinese, the British with their decisiveness, all these nationalities are represented here. How amazed you would be if from your quiet Muenster you would find yourself transported to Broadway, the premier street of New York. Your ears would become deaf from the noise of wagons which are all bunched up but still move in an orderly fashion; your eyes would become blind from the wealth and luxury of the Italian marble. You would be astonished to see the busy populace which runs as if it needed to reach the end of the world. I had enough time to observe this; for days I looked at this spectacle, however my thoughts were elsewhere. I began to think how I could make a living. After I had worked for a few days in the factory of Mr. Frankenheimer which was not suitable work for me, I decided to look up my other relatives. I found a helping hand from my cousin Henry Lefman. And he is now the only one on whom I can depend. Without him I would be lost. He is a well-to-do honest man. He is in every respect above Philipp Frankenheimer.
Concerning myself again, I received from my cousin a few purses, etc. with which I eagerly went to business. I also went to the houses of the wealthy (on Fifth Avenue, a row of palaces) and asked for the "lady of the house." I was quickly turned away and sometimes invited in and very seldom I sold something. Nevertheless for a time I did well and earned a few dollars a day but after a while my luck ran out and also my money. I then tried [to sell] other things, liquor, wine, and tea; but I had no luck or patience with these.
Later I got a position in a manufacturing business in Brooklyn and stayed there 14 days until I saw that the boss did not treat me fairly. At present I have no occupation but to go for a stroll. Yesterday I received a position starting March 1 in a dry goods store on Broadway due to a recommendation from Henry Lefman.
Concerning my present life, it is pleasant since I left P. F. [Phillipp Frankenheimer]. At first I lived with Americans where I had the opportunity to observe the Yankee way of life and to further my knowledge of English. Now I "board" in a German hotel whose owner was my travel companion on the Hermann and who keeps an excellent kitchen.
"Good bye my dear aunts, uncles, and sisters, yours truly Louis Windmüller."