November 20: A Fire, A Fiery Lady & A Hungry Lion

    On November 20, 1887, fire raged through the winter quarters of Barnum & Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth. The five-acre compound in what is now Bridgeport’s Went Field Park housed circus animals, staff and equipment during the chilly off-season. Unfortunately, if there was anything to be said about the nineteenth-century circus, it’s that…

September 2: Dog Parachuted From Hot-Air Balloon High Over Middletown

  Silas Markham Brooks, Connecticut’s first documented hot air balloonist, was one of many native Connecticans who pursued a colorful — if unpredictable — career as a consummate showman in the 19th century. Born in Plymouth in 1824, Brooks worked in a local clock-making factory before being hired by P. T. Barnum to help manufacture…

July 13: P. T. Barnum’s Greatest Performance Wasn’t on a Stage

  Today in 1865, Connecticut’s Greatest Showman Phineas Taylor “P T” Barnum was as busy as ever – but not on a stage or in a tent. Rather, he was giving an impassioned speech in the Connecticut legislature, where he was serving his first of several terms as a state representative. The seasoned showbiz veteran…