This drawing illustrates a scene in New York City during the riots of July 4, 1857. It was "Independence Day," but instead of celebrating the day Americans adopted the "Declaration of Independence," rival gangs and their supporters were fighting against each other.
This particular scene depicts an event in the City's Sixth Ward where people were throwing bricks out of their windows. Those "brick bats" were intended to hit police officers trying to maintain order as the "Bowery Boys" and the "Dead Rabbits" fought each other.
This drawing was included in contemporary newspapers with this caption:
Scene at the Five Points Riot. Women and men throwing brickbats down on the police.
Image online, courtesy Library of Congress.