Birth of a Circus Legend
Showman Phineas Taylor “P.T.” Barnum was born on July 5, 1810, in Bethel, Connecticut. Talented at haggling and salesmanship from an early age, Barnum embarked on a variety of business ventures. He owned a general store and newspaper and ran a state lottery, among other things.
Barnum began his showman career in New York City in 1835. He established Barnum’s American Museum that hosted a series of changing acts and curiosities including jugglers, magicians, exotic women, detailed models, wild animals, and daily hot-air balloon rides.
It wasn’t until he was 60 years old that Barnum established his first traveling circus – “P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome.” It had several names over the years and eventually became known as the Greatest Show on Earth. Barnum himself joined the show, riding around the tent in a chariot and joining his customers in marveling at his spectacle.
Barnum’s legacy continues today with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which was established in 1907 and remains one of America’s most popular shows.
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