The New York Draft riots of 1863 close The Gangs of New York both in terms of time and content. The most extraordinary element of this sequence is the (apparently) indiscriminate shelling of the Five Points neighborhood by the Navy. The fact that the "native" government is destroying the old order is clearly a major factor in the meaning of the film.
Is there any historical evidence for anything near this level of indiscriminate destruction? If not, are there interviews/articles in which the filmmakers describe their decision to include it?
Wikipedia mentions "artillery" but it sounds more like the occasional small cannon on wheels and not the heavy barrage depicted in the film. Generally I'm not a stickler for these things but since so much of the film's meaning appears to be tied up with this self-inflicted widespread annihilation, I can't help but wonder if it is included because it reflects something that really happened or if it reflects an attitude/message that the filmmakers wanted to capture and were thus willing to give up historical accuracy in an otherwise painfully accurate production.