Buffalo Bill’s wild west show thrills 1894 Brooklyn

Part circus, part vaudeville act, part patriotic celebration of a mythic American frontier, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show was a huge summer draw when this traveling extravaganza booked time in New York in the late 19th century.

The show first visited Erastina, a park on the north shore of Staten Island, in 1886. “The festivities began with an elaborate parade through the streets of Manhattan on June 26,” states the blog for the Museum of the City of New York.

“Quickly, the entertainers’ camp became as popular as the scheduled performances. Families from Manhattan and Queens chatted with cowboys and marveled at Native Americans who sat in hammocks and roasted hotdogs for supper.”

After a turn at Madison Square Garden, the show moved to Brooklyn for the summer of 1894, thrilling audiences at Ambrose Park, a 24-acre parcel of land on Third Avenue and 37th Street in today’s Sunset Park.

And while it might seem corny to New Yorkers today, this kind of spectacle was great family fun for the growing middle class of the Gilded Age, when ferries and elevated trains made day trips to Ambrose Park easier.

William Cody “truly did establish himself as a talented marksman and scout on the frontier before he transformed into a charming showman,” states the MCNY blog.

“His Wild West show subsequently relied on his knowledge of the West to gain popularity, but he also depended on urban environments, like New York, which allowed his spectacle to flourish.”

Get a load of the map of Greater New York in the poster! Whoever drew it managed to get the Brooklyn Bridge in there, but the city seems to stop at Chambers Street. And what’s the rectangle land mass off Brooklyn?

[Second image Brooklyn Eagle ad, 1894; third photo: Green-Wood Cemetery]

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3 Responses to “Buffalo Bill’s wild west show thrills 1894 Brooklyn”

  1. Buffalo Bill’s wild west show thrills 1894 Brooklyn | Ephemeral New York | Rogues & Vagabonds Says:

    […] Source: Buffalo Bill’s wild west show thrills 1894 Brooklyn | Ephemeral New York […]

  2. Zoe Says:

    My former boyfriend’s good friend the Brooklyn born & raised musician Richie Havens who passed in 2013 owed his conception to this show coming to NYC & Brooklyn!

    His paternal grandfather was a Blackfoot Native from Montana/South Dakota who travelled w/ his brother in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show & parted ways w/ the show in NYC where he made his way to the Shennecock Reservation in LI. Richie’s mother was of West Indian heritage.

    Hence Richie was very involved in civil & human rights for both Native & Black people.

    My mother talked about seeing a show like this — including w/ “Indians” — in Berlin in the 1920s. But what I find *really* strange is that these shows still go on in Europe; complete w/ Native Americans *acting* (as I heard one of the actors describe his work) *Indian*.

    In CT near where I live a Native man who passed on from illness whilst performing w/ this show & was buried here then; was recently reburied ceremoniously in the place of his birth to be with his family/tribe/ancestors.

  3. Buffalo Bill’s traveling show in NYC! | The Realm Of Olde Brooklyn Says:

    […] https://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2017/07/17/buffalo-bills-wild-west-show-thrills-1894-brooklyn… […]

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