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Circus and the City: New York, 1793-2010 by Matthew Wittmann


Matthew Wittmann

“A treasure…This book brings to life the days when the circus was at the heart of an emerging American popular culture, rather than a mere sideshow, and restores the circus to its rightful place as the progenitor of the nation’s entire entertainment industry.”—Beyond Chron

At the turn of the 20th century, the circus was the most popular form of American entertainment, and New York City was the hub of circus-related activity. Featuring superb archival photography, this book documents a wide variety of ephemera, images, and artifacts relating to the history of the circus in the city, from the seminal equestrian displays of the 18th century to the iconic railroad circuses of the late 19th century. Matthew Wittmann offers a thorough history of the circus in New York City, including stories of P. T. Barnum's triumphant entry into the circus business, the famous dwarf General Tom Thumb, and Jumbo, the African elephant that touched off a craze known as "Jumbomania." The histories of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, the WPA Circus of the Great Depression, and the Big Apple Circus are testaments to the enduring popularity of this American pastime.

Matthew Wittmann is a curatorial fellow at the Bard Graduate Center.

Table of Contents


Chronology of New York City and the Circus
Compiled by Alexis Mucha

Circus and the City

Selected Catalogue

Checklist of the Exhibition

Appendix: Historical Reviews
Photo Credits and Chronology Captions

2.30 LBS

Other Details

10.5 x 8.4 x 0.9 inches
Page count:
208 pages, 250 illustrations
Publication date:
September 2012
Paper over board