January 9, 2018

Good News in History, January 9

250 years ago today, on a stage in London, Philip Astley produced the first ever modern-day circus to feature his genius for trick riding. An equestrian master, Astley rode in a circle that day rather than a straight line as his rivals did—and he later added music, acrobats, prancing dogs, and clowns. He manifested his dream of opening a riding school by day and, afterward conducting shows of acrobatic riding skill, which turned into the circus he called Astley’s Amphitheatre. He performed his stunts in a ring 42 ft in diameter, which is the size used by circuses ever since. Two years later, he hired acrobats, tightrope walkers, jugglers and a clown to fill in the pauses between acts. (1768)

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