NamesThe names of the Five Families are attributed to Mafia informant Joe Valachi. After his arrest in 1959, Valachi gave the police the names of the current bosses of the Five Families. The names of four of those bosses, Gaetano Lucchese, Vito Genovese, Carlo Gambino, and Joe Bonanno, were used to name their respective families. The fifth family was headed by Joe Profaci in 1959, but it is named after its 1960s era boss, Joseph Colombo.
TerritoriesThe Five familes operate throughout the New York Metropolitan area, but mainly within New York City's five boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island and also in Northern New Jersey. In the state of New York the families have increased their criminal rackets in Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk) and the counties of Westchester, Rockland and Albany. They have maintained an historical presence in the state of New Jersey since the Prohibition era. The families are also active in South Florida, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Las Vegas.
- The Genovese crime family — operates mainly in Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn and New Jersey. But the family also maintains influence in Queens, Staten Island, Long Island, Westchester County, Rockland County, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Florida.
- The Gambino crime family — operates mainly in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and New Jersey. But also maintains influence in The Bronx, Staten Island, Long Island, Westchester County, Connecticut, Florida and Los Angeles.
- The Ozone Park Boys — (operates in Queens and Long Island area)
- DeMeo Crew — (operates in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan)
- The Lucchese crime family — operates mainly in The Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey. But also maintains influence in Queens, Long Island, Staten Island, Westchester County, and Florida.
- Cutaia Crew — (operates in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island)
- The Jersey Crew — (operates in all over New Jersey)
- The Tanglewood Boys — (a recruitment gang operating in Westchester County, The Bronx and Manhattan.)
- The Bonanno crime family — operates mainly in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island. But also maintains influence in Manhattan, The Bronx, Westchester County, New Jersey, Florida and Montreal, Quebec Canada.
- The Motion Lounge crew — (operates in Brooklyn and Long Island)
- The Colombo crime family — operates mainly in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. But also maintains influence in Staten Island, Manhattan, The Bronx, New Jersey and Florida.
- Garfield Boys — (operates in the South Brooklyn area)
- In the 1972 mafia-centered novel and movie The Godfather, five crime families dominate the Mafia of New York, but the families have different names from their real life counterparts above. The Corleones, from their compound on Long Island, go to war with the other members of the Five Families: the Tattaglias, the Barzinis, the Cuneos, and the Straccis.
- In the HBO series The Sopranos, the DiMeo crime family of New Jersey have close business connections with the Lupertazzi crime family of Brooklyn, one of the five families in New York. Members of the DeCavalcante family believed themselves to be the inspiration for the DiMeo family. Due to its large size, the Lupertazzi crime family likely represents the Gambino crime family. Also, there have been references to four other families in the show: the Paglieri Family, the Mangano Family (the former name of the Gambino Crime Family), the Tarese Family and the DeBenedetto family. Although in episode 8 of the first season, “The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti”, Meadow refers to Charles “Lucky” Luciano as the founder of the Mafia and in that context cites the names of the original Five Families.
- The Grand Theft Auto video game series represents many of the Five Families in the game with the Leone, Sindacco, and Forelli families. In addition, Grand Theft Auto IV features the Five Families ruling body called "The Commission", consisting of the Messina (Bonnano), Ancelotti (Colombo), Gambetti (Gambino), Pavano (Genovese) and Lupisella (Lucchese) families, with the smaller Alderney (New Jersey) Pegorino family (DeCavalcante) trying to become a sixth entity.
- In the episode Chair Model from The Office, Kevin mentions the "Five Families" of the Scranton Business Park, referring to the heads of the five companies which operate out of the business park.
- In the 1997 crime drama Hoodlum, there are two scenes where the five families meet to discuss mafia business and strategies.