I've started writing a story that has a particularly large flashback to life in New York City between 1901 and 1920. The only issue is, I don't really know that much about it to where I feel that its very accurate, there's quite a bit to go over. When I like to study or write about things in history, it always helps to go to a museum or historical site to really get the inspiration and ideas flowing but, unfortunately I don't have the luxury of flying to NYC and doing this. Life in this particular time period in Texas doesn't really help me that much, especially since life for immigrants and racial tensions from all the various ethnic groups played a more important role in how business was carried out. This is where I get stumped because I'm not finding anything specific for what I'm looking for.
Here's, in detail things I need help with. Jump to the bottom for a TL;DR version if you don't care about the details and just have some suggestions to throw out XD
I'm asking here because some of you are from NYC and probably picked up on some things.
I've read/seen things on tenement and immigrant life, which considering the second main character is a child of German-Jewish immigrants, I think I've got that figured out pretty well. The problem is where to stick the main character..
I wanted sort of a twist. The main characters father appears to be very clean and respectable, but in reality, he's in with the mob. The original idea was to make him a police captain working as a mole for a family of.. certain descent I haven't figured that out yet because, you know outside of Italians, I'm not entirely sure what else to put. However I keep finding things that the Italian mob generally was in Brooklyn and the story would take place in Manhattan.
It was from someone else's input on where to place the characters that, considering the other characters family are pretty recent immigrants, that it take place in the Lower East Side. This makes sense for the that character.
Main character's father is the grandson of German-Jewish immigrants. His father changed their name from Mueller to Miller, he's the one who devotes his life to the boss of the mob family and "pledges" his blood (I was thinking they'd be pretty hardcore, to give it a little edge, in that the members of the "family" pledge that their descendants would be faithful and continue the legacy, this is what will eventually fall into the unsupecting main character's lap). Though most of these details won't be in full detail in the story, my idea was it have been the idea of the boss to groom the son into becoming their mole. The grandfather worked as a bookkeeper, but it was planned for his son to join the police force to have eyes on law, however, I run into a wall where I found one source saying the police force was primarily composed of Irish and Italians and strong prejudice kept out jews and some other ethnicities out at the time. Now I feel like saying he was a police officer would be stupid, is this something that's correct? Or would the name change and the fact he was a native New Yorker be able to get him around this obstacle?
If not, I was also just going to make him a book keeper as well for a company that acts as a front to the organization. He had planned to marry someone just to keep suspicions low and appear normal (though to prove his loyalty he has to give his first born over to the organization to be raised as they see fit, which if he was a cop, it'd probably be easy to fabricate something unfortunate happening to him) He knew that would happen, but it made him realize he actually cared about his family and continued to do as he was told, etc. eventually until 1920, when he is murdered for disobeying orders.
Like I said, most of the background info won't be detailed but it would be stupid to have him a cop if it wasn't realistic, but what also gets me is I'm not familar with the neighborhoods in and around lower east side. I wouldn't think they'd be living in a poor tenement, as he'd have a bit more money. Cops aren't rich, but he recieves some support from the organization, enough to put them in a decent place to live. I didn't want to stick a regular sized family home at the time where it doesn't belong (and apparently a tenement was the size of a regular family home? wow). What streets or areas might be more appropriate then the immediate poor area. I have no idea if the entire area was dirt dirt poor or there might've been some spots for those who were a small step up. Also, though it wouldn't be touched on in the story, the mother is an immigrant (A christian German) who came over in the late 1880s as a girl with her family as they were "old money" that had lost their fortune and desired to start anew in America. The girl went from everything to nothing and would've been residing in the tenements with her family. In my head she would've married Miller because he was a bit better off then what she was coming from, though it was for love too, she wouldn't have married someone as poor. That's just extra info lol. But it's a pretty important detail so I thought'd I'd ask how likely that situation would be in such a time in place in that particular area.
I think I can find out most of the other details on my own. I just really wanted to hit this one right because it's the social issues and the daily life of regular people that really capture my interest when it comes to history and I'd be less then pleased if I didn't know that this was atleast somewhat realistic in the place and setting.
So TL;DR: Looking for websites, books, movies (fictional or documentary), CDs/tapes, whatever that would give me good information on LIFE (daily life, regular life, mob life, and a good study on police of the time would be very useful as well) in New York City (specifically Manhattan) in the first quarter of the 20th century. With special emphasis on how all the different immigrants in the area interracted, what ethnic groups took what jobs, etc. Any VERY SPECIFIC insight is much appreciated, as I'm mostly coming across stuff that's pretty vague (also search suggestions are appreciated). The library… Well it emphasizes the role of Texas in the Civil War decently more then it does anywhere else (second to that is Nazi Germany, its kind of random) >_> I thought I'd ask some people here who might be from the area/city, and may have gone over it in good detail at school and are quite familiar with the history.
Thanks in advance :D