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Random Did You Know Facts


Apr 23, 2008

The Circus

Did you know...
The circus is believed to have originated in Ancient Rome. The Roman amphitheatre was called a circus after the Latin word for “circle” and was most often used for gladiatorial combat and chariot races. The modern circus started in England in 1768. A former sergeant major named Philip Astley started organizing shows featuring trick riders on horses galloping in a circle.

The first circus in the USA was held in Philadelphia on April 3, 1793. John Bill Ricketts, a Scottish horseman put on the first circus show. It was not held in a huge tent or in an enormous sporting stadium like circuses are today. He built a roofless amphitheater of wood which was called "Circus" - that's how the name came about. John Bill Ricketts, with the help of his brother performed tricks on horseback. A clown and a tightrope walker - both friends of the brothers - were the other acts that were added to the show later. George Washington, our first president, attended this circus many times.

The "big top", otherwise known as the circus tent, was first used in 1825. The use of the tent enabled circus acts to set up and take down a show very quickly, making travel easier.

The circus became a form of entertainment for all ages and grew from a one ring act to many rings with what we call a "ringmaster" in the center ring. The first two-ring circus was introduced in 1872, and the first three-ring circus was in 1881. The multiple rings enabled spectators to enjoy three different acts performing all at the same time. The ringmaster still wears the fashionable riding clothes as did John Ricketts.

The first clown to perform in a circus was a man named McDonald
I think you may have heard and/or seen a clown by that name, haven't you?

It is estimated that there have been more than two thousand circuses in this country.

P.T. Barnum was never an owner of any circus. He was actually a museum owner for most of his career; however, his name carries strong associations with the circus. While never owning a circus of his own, Barnum worked with many co-owners to market and produce some of the most popular circuses of the late 19th century

1 comment:

Matthew S. Urdan said...

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