PODCAST: Barnum’s American Museum

You know PT Barnum from his circus, but he was bringing the freakshow to New York long before then. Come take a tour with us of the craziest museum to ever hit New York City.

Listen to it for free on iTunes or other podcasting services. Or you can download or listen to it HERE

P.T. Barnum, godfather of the spectacle

Barnum’s first hit, his ‘the 161 year old’ find

The scene around City Hall Park in 1842. The Barnum Museum is the building with the flag:

Another illustration of the wild scene in front of the museum

A typical Barnum advertisement:

Unbelievably, Barnum’s hosted a wide variety of aquatic creatures, including whales:

An advertisement for the Fejee Mermaid:

And the real thing:

An illustration — by Currier and Ives, no less — of the ‘What Is It’

The Siamese Twins, Cheng and Eng

Another attraction: Anna Swan, the Nova Scotia giantess, who had to be rescued from the fire that burned the museum down in 1865

The museum burns, 1865

The City University of New York has an extraordinary website devoted to Barnums, which includes a very Myst-like simulated walkthrough of the American Museum and a thorough archive of information. I highly recommend you check it out.

5 replies on “PODCAST: Barnum’s American Museum”

This is an amazing site. I stumbled on it whilst looking for bad reviews of the Hotel Astor in New Orleans where my camera was stolen. I’ve put a link to Bowery Boys on my site. My friend Junk Thief, of course, had already heard of you guys. What a fantastic site! So well written – as well written as any printed history book. THank you

Do you happen to know who owns the engraving of the Museum, City Hall Park, and the Astor Hotel (4th from the top)? I would like to use it in a publication of mine, but I would need it provenance. Thanks. (Chris Green – christo (at) yorku (dot) ca)

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