5. Draft Riots Damaged the Area During the Civil War

The Draft Riots of 1863 are regarded as the deadliest racially incensed insurrection in American history, aside from the Civil War. Image from Library of Congress 

During the heat of the Civil War, in July 1863, a mob of enraged people torched the entire block between 45th and 46th streets in Turtle Bay during the Draft Riots, starting at a military enlistment office on Third Avenue and 45th street.

The source of their ire was the first Draft Act passed that March, which let draftees to pay $300 to evade military service and therefore put the impoverished at a disadvantage. After three days, troops suppressed the riots, which had spread to and destroyed other areas of New York City by then.