Essay heading: Entertainment in the Gilded Age

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American History


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March 20, 2001






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P.T. Barnum, one of its founders, started out as the owner of a freak show. He was keen on advertising and also knew how to attract audiences, skills he needed in order to compete with The Ringling Brothers' Circus, his main competitor. That show was also quite a spectacle, featuring lavish scenery and thousands of performers...
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The two each strove to be recognized as the best in the world, which helped to make the circus the "show to see" when it came to town.2 One more prevalent traveling show was the Chautauqua, which blended education with entertainment. When its founders realized how popular their exhibition had become, they knew they had something good, and the one show expanded to locations throughout the country...
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