The end of an era

On July 13, 1865, New York had one of the most disastrous fires in its history. One of the casualties was America’s first museum, P. T. Barnum American Museum. Located at the corner of Broadway and Ann, it first opened in 1841, was open 15 hours a day and hosted as many as 15,000 patrons a day. Between 1841 and 1865, 38 million people paid $.25 apiece to view animals, artifacts and fraudulent items like the Feejee Mermaid and the Wooly Horse. (Keep in mind the population of the United States in 1860 was 32 million.)

According to Wikipedia, as the fire consumed the museum, “animals at the museum were seen jumping from the burning building, only to be shot by police officers. Many of the animals unable to escape the blaze burned to death in their enclosures, including the two beluga whales who boiled to death in their tanks. It was allegedly during this fire that a fireman by the name of Johnny Denham killed an escaped tiger with his ax before rushing into the burning building and carrying out a 400-pound woman on his shoulders.” See my books at]


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *