Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
The Greatest Show on Earth
1. Historic U.S. Events, ed. "Barnum's Circus Opens." U.S. History in Context. Last modified 2014. (January 4, 2017).
3. Tripbase Photo Essay. Elephants: History of the Traveling Circus. Photograph. Tripbase. (Februrary 2, 2017).
4. Barnum and Bailey Circus. Photograph. Circuses and Slideshows. 2013. (April 4, 2017).
9. Irving Wallace,. P.T Barnum. Photograph. Encyclopedia Britannica. May 7, 2013. (April 4, 2017).
11. Ibid, "Circuses and Slideshows."
12. Historic U.S. Events, ed. "Barnum's Circus Opens." U.S. History in Context. Last modified 2014. (January 4, 2017).
How did Barnum, Bailey & the Ringling Bros. contribute to the evolution of the circus?
Beginning in 1770 in London, the first circus started when Philip Astley combined "the three basic components of the modern circus: the clowns, the ring, and the ring acts." (1) Taking inspiration from Astley, Phineas Taylor (P.T.) Barnum introduced the circus to America as a form of entertainment through what he called the "Greatest Show on Earth." Barnum based the circus out of New York City as he combined elements of the ancient Roman circus into modern forms of entertainment.
Once the city circuses grew larger and more popular, they joined with "urban horse shows" inside city amphitheaters. The traveling tents that started the modern circus were very similar to the "entertainment offered by theaters and halls" in New York City at the time. Although, these shows "were [still] missing the excitement of travel". Many cities also began adopting circus parades, but "there were [still] no more than 32 [circus] shows touring the country" and these shows were still missing the infamous 'circus ring' that was still to come. (2)
Pioneers of the circus industry that we know today, James A. Bailey and Phineas T. Barnum (along with the Ringling brothers) changed the entertainment world for the better. Their willingness to experiment has left lasting effects on the industry for years to come.
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