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One-Ring Circus: 1905

One-Ring Circus: 1905

New York circa 1905. "Circus at Luna Park, Coney Island." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Lions and tigers and bears, and more!

Count me among the many who would love to hitch a ride in a tricked-out DeLorean or TARDIS to visit Luna Park in its heyday. I have an additional reason for wanting to see it.

I'm currently searching the Shorpy archives in hopes of finding a photo of one Richard Havemann, a professional animal trainer, who came to America from Germany in the summer of 1905 with a few whiskered friends.

From BillionGraves:

His immigration form notes that his destination was "Luna Park" and his occupation was "Wild animals".

Luna Park would be the launch point for his decades-long vaudeville act, initially called "Havemann's trained animals", across the US and into Canada.

With his changing cast of wild animals -- including, at various times, leopards, lions, tigers, and bears -- he impressed audiences from Luna Park in Coney Island, NY, to Seattle, WA, and appeared at many prominent theaters between, including Washington DC, Virginia, California, Utah, Illinois, Indiana, and even Winnipeg, Canada.

Newspaper accounts breathlessly describe his "Kings of the Jungle" act with as many as 10 lions and tigers. A 1922 flyer for the Orpheum advertises his "Kings of the Forest and Desert" act with "Lions, Tigers and Leopards."

Human Torpedo earns HOW MUCH?!?

Inflation adjustment calculator shows his earnings as $15323 per week, in 2013 dollars! Nice $800,000/year job!

Pricing in and possible itinerary in 1905

Taken from an article in the Scranton Republican, June 18, 1905.

Then and Now

It's all gone now, of course, but I was curious where everything was and what was currently sitting on this particular plot of land. I found a 1908 map of Luna Park and put it side-by-side with the Google satellite view. The circus is right in the center of the park.

Click here for larger version.

Map source: This (fantastic) site.

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