Melodramatic Menagerie Comes To York, PA
Yorkers did not lack for entertainment. Traveling performers and theater groups of all kinds made regular stops in York. The draw of the menagerie was usually the assortment of exotic animals, but the one the came to town in May 1843 added lots of drama to the animal acts.
The sizable announcement in the Gazette was an enticing piece of advertising:
“MENAGERIE! THE PHILADELPHIA ZOOLOGICAL GARDEN
UNITED WITH THE NEW YORK INSTITUTE
FOR THE YEAR 1843,
UNDER THE DIRECTION OF
MR. H. HOPKINS & CO.
The Proprietors of this establishment would inform the citizens of York and vicinity, that their exhibition will be open for the reception of visitors, on the Commons, in the Borough of York, on WEDNESDAY, THE 31st OF MAY. Doors open from 2 to 5 o’clock, and from 7 to 10 P.M. Price of admission 25 cents, children under ten years of age half price.
NEW AND SPLENDID SCENERY, done in oil painting by one of the best artists of Philadelphia, decorates the sides of 25 wagons, all containing animals of different descriptions, affording one of the most rich and animating displays ever brought forth, all the designs being of the latest finish and most admirable fashion. To enliven this scene, on entering the town a high toned band will pour forth some of the most fashionable airs.
The celebrated JOHN SHEFFER,
The subduer of the savage denizens of the forest, will appear in the most magnificent series of scenes, entitled
‘THE DREADFUL DOOM OF THE SULTAN’S SLAVE.’
Among a variety of thrilling situations, the following will be exhibited: The outcast slave banished to the forest of Falbri, expiring from hunger and fatigue; when a fierce Brazilian Tiger darts like lightning upon him from an upper cavern. The Eastern despot’s most awful sentence! Forfeited life spared on condition of training a wild Lion to harness, which is accomplished; and the slave rides across the road in an ancient car.
Also a variety of other beautiful and striking situations will be presented during the progress of the piece, to conclude with the most bold, grand and daring human display presented among a whole caravan of wild animals let loose at the same time upon the Indian slave, who will gradually subdue, and playfully exhibit his remarkable skill in elegantly grouping the matchless zoological exhibition.
For particulars see large bills posted at the hotels.
The above will be exhibited in Abbotstown on the 30th of May and Columbia on the 1st of June. York, May 23, 1843.”
Wow–how’s that for a show?
Click here to read about circus and animal acts still going strong in 1867.