Greatest Show on Earth is no more
It was with sadness that I first learned that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was calling it quits after 146 years. “The Greatest Show on Earth” would be no more. Ditto for the circus train.
Maybe Americans have grown too sophisticated for the circus. Then again, maybe Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey died due to an overdose of political correctness. In any case, this venerable institution staged its final show in Uniondale, N.Y., on May 21. Two weeks earlier, the circus’s other unit provided its final thrills and laughs in Providence, R.I.
The American circus got its start in Philadelphia on April 3, 1793. John Bill Ricketts provided the first circus performance. This new form of entertainment was a hit. Traveling circuses grew in number and popularity throughout the 19th century.