Buffalo Bill Cody was a bison hunter, Union Army soldier, Pony Express rider and all-around frontiersman. But by 1886 he’d become a showman. That year, he took his Wild West show to New York for a stint at Madison Square Garden. And New York audiences couldn’t get enough.
It must have been quite a spectacle. The show featured Cody, assorted cowboys and cowgirls, plus more than 100 Native Americans. They reenacted powwows, buffalo hunts, stagecoach trips, mining camp life, and other elements of the mythologized West.
“Taken as a whole, the show is excellent,” The New York Times wrote. “The scenery is more than good, the incidents of frontier life realistic, the dances and ceremonies of the Indians are spirited and effective.”
Cody returned to MSG with different incarnations of his show over the years until it went bankrupt in 1913. The photo above was taken at the Garden with chiefs Red Cloud and American Horse. Below, a poster for the 1886 Madison Square Garden show.
The arrival of the Wild West show in cities across the country was often accompanied by a parade. It’s unclear where this 1902 parade footage takes place—could it be New York?