When The Circus Came To Town

Camden's location as the rail hub between Philadelphia and New York made the town a natural venue for circuses in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. In the days before television and radio, the circus coming to town was a very big event!

The “Old Show Lot” frequently used by circuses and other out-door exhibitions in 1868-1870 was located at the northeast corner of 5th and Penn Streets. As an illustration of the amount of vacant or undeveloped land within the present built-up portion of the city, it may be cited that in 1870 the block bounded by Broadway, Mickle Street, 5th Street, and Benson Street was favorably considered as a public park by a committee of the City Council

P.T. Barnum's "great traveling museum, menagerie and caravan" exhibited on the lots on Broadway below Bridge avenue on April 20, 1872.

Another large circus, now forgotten, was the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, which traveled by rail until its closure in 1936. 

Many people remember The Big Top television show featuring circus acts which was broadcast live from the original Convention Hall until that edifice burned down in 1953.

Camden Courier-Post - June 1, 1933

-Wallace Will Arrive Here in Special All-Steel Train

The number one advertising car of the Great Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus rolled into town yesterday and al­most immediately 35 billposters, lithographers, and bannermen were busy in the city and suburbs putting up the highly colored posters of the clowns, elephants, bespangled stars, and jungle beasts.

The huge show, traveling on three special all-steel trains of double length circus cars, the second largest in the world, is scheduled to exhibit here on Thursday, June 15, at East State Street and Cooper River.

Clyde Beatty. World's greatest wild animal trainer, is again the outstanding feature, with scores of acts, many of them new to America, dot­ting the lengthy program. Forty-eight horses in one huge number, feature the equine displays, while the famous Hanneford family of bareback riders, with “Poodles” Hanneford, greatest of riding clowns, headline with the equestrian acts. The Flying Hills, the Clarkonians, and the LeBlanie Trio, trapeze performers, will head the troupes of aerialists.

Other 1933 features include “Bombayo”, the Man from India, the Picchiani Troupe, acrobats; the Canestrelly Family, ladder performers, and over 100 other ring, track, and stage numbers from among the great assemblage of 500 men and women stars with the big show this season.

The largest menagerie on tour in the world, augmented, by five herds of performing elephants, 40 in number, 30 camels and a whole herd of zebras is another feature this year.

Camden Courier-Post
June 4, 1933

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Camden Courier-Post
June 7, 1933

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Camden Courier-Post
June 9, 1933

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Camden Courier-Post - June 9, 1933
Clown Elephant Puts on Own 'Weber-and-Fields' Show 

Of the many uproariously funny clown skits in the Great Hagenbeck-
Wallace Circus, coming to Camden next Thursday, probably the most talented is Mickey McDonald and "Joel", one of the clown elephants, in their impersonation of the Hebrew. In this, the huge pachyderm will be seen doing the Hebrew skip-dance, one of the most difficult things ever taught an elephant. 

The vast audiences never fail to respond with roars of laughter and applause, as the pair proceed around the full length of the great hippodrome track. 

There are 65 funsters with the huge show this season, and all are of national reputations. A clown band of 35 pieces is another of the outstanding clown features with "The Highest Class Circus on Earth." 


Camden Courier-Post - June 10, 1933
Friends in Circus Call Her One of Most Daring in Profession

The "Versatility Girl" is what the 700 men and women arenic performers with the Hagenbeck-Wallace circus call Stella Cronin, charming and most daring of the "bigtop's" scores of aerialists.

And probably justly so, for the attractive little miss has more accomplishments than any performer known in the land of sawdust and spangles. Besides her daring on the aerial rings, she will be seen as featured rider in the huge high school horse number, as the star trainer of elephants, and, again, as the featured rider among the eighteen expert horsewomen in the Hagenbeck-Wallace display of thoroughbred high-jumping equines." 

But that" is not all for she is one of the three solo dancers in the opening pageant, "The Soudan," an accomplishment she did not know she possessed until the opportunity of being taught to dance was offered her by the dancing master with the show. 

With the great Hagenbeck-Wallace circus, coming to Camden next Thursday, there will be scores of stars in every 

white-top calling who present over 100 acts, displays and numbers. Among them Clyde Beatty, world's greatest wild animal trainer, who will again appear in person at 2 and 8 p.m. Five herds of elephants and the largest menagerie on tour in the world will be additional features this season, ail wi1l be a great assemblage of nationally known clowns." 

Camden Courier-Post - June 12, 1933

Among the 65 clowns with the Great Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, coming to Camden next Thursday will be Earl Shipley, one of the most noted funsters in the land of sawdust and spangles. Not only is he famous as a pantomime artist, but he is the producing head of "clown alley" for the big show and the leader of the famous Hagenbeck-Wallace clown band. 



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Camden Courier-Post - June 13, 1933
Brass Collar, Fitted at Tribal Rites Worn by Woman Coming With Circus
Royalty in Circus


When the long steel trains of the Great Hagenbeck-Wallace circus arrive in the Pennsylvania Railroad yards Thursday a royal princess of the Padaung tribe of Burma will occupy a private car. This princess is one of the last unknown peoples of the earth and is advertised and featured as the giraffe-neck woman from Burma. 

Princess Mu Kaun is 27 years old and her neck is circled by 24 brass bands, hand wrought. In infancy the girl babies of this tribe have brass bands placed around their necks. From time to time at tribal ceremonies the band is removed and replaced by another with additional rings. No white person has ever been allowed to witness this ceremony. After it has been placed around the neck, the band is never removed until the next ceremony and is worn constantly, day and night. 

It requires three weeks and six days for the princess and her husband, Wong Da, to make the trip to America. Their home is in the Karen Hills, 700 miles due north of Rangoon, and is finally reached by a two day horseback ride, after a lengthy journey by motor car. Mu Kaun is the first member of her tribe to come to America, and our women seem just as much a curiosity to her, as she does to them.  

The brass rings, which are made by the native Burmese, weigh approximately 50 pounds. So that all may see this startling discovery, the Hagenbeck-Wallace management has arranged for Princess Mu Kaun to appear in the main performance, at no additional cost. 

Hagenbeck-Wallace is the only big railroad circus coming to Camden this summer and a special price is announced for children under 12 years, at both afternoon and night shows.

Camden Courier-Post - June 14, 1933
Giant Beasts Will Be One Feature of Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus
Aids Sales Drive

CLYDE BEATTY Famous wild animal trainer of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, who will tour the Camden business district between 11.30 and 12 o'clock, Thursday, in the interests of "Co-operation Days," the big sales festival sponsored by Camden's leading retail merchants.

The heaviest drinkers in America- 29 of 'em- will arrive in Camden early tomorrow.

They are the elephants with Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, world's largest trained animal show, which will build its nomadic city of tents at State Street and Cooper River. 

Included in the canvas community will be the mammoth "big top" which weighs seven tons in canvas alone, the cook and dining tents, sideshow top, dressing tents, black smith shop, stables, hospital tent, the largest menagerie tent on tour and a host of other big and little tops numbering 20 in all. 

Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus this year features Princess Mu Kaun, giraffe-necked woman from Upper Burma. She appears with her husband, Maung Da, in the main performances and boasts a neck 14 inches in length, elongated through a primitive tribal custom of encircling the neck with solid brass rings which are superimposed from infancy. Augmenting this attraction are youthful Clyde Beatty, world's greatest wild animal trainer, battling 40 lions and tigers in a mixed group; "Poodles" Hanneford and the famous family of bareback riders; Bombayo, Hindu acrobatic marvel in double somersaults on the bounding Indian rope; the Clarkenians and the Hills, aerialists; the renowned Billetti troupe of high-wire daredevils in hazardous exploits at the dome of the big top; "Cheerful" Gardiner with 

five herds of performing elephants; scores of thoroughbred high school horses and pretty riders; the Cannestrell act on unsupported ladders; 50 clowns in laugh-provoking antics and a gorgeous opening speactacle, "The Soudan." .  

Doors will open at 1 and 7 p. m., an hour earlier than the starting time of the main performances, to permit a leisurely inspection of the huge menagerie. For the convenience of the public, a downtown ticket sale wlll be established circus day at the J.C. Penney store, where grandstand chairs may be reserved and general admission tickets purchased at the same prices prevailing on the show grounds. Hagenbeck-Wallace is the only railroad circus coming here this year.

Camden Courier-Post
June 14, 1933

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Camden Courier-Post - June 15, 1933
Wondrous Variety of Entertainment Will Be Shown Under 'Big Top'
Daring Clyde Beatty

Insert shows Beatty and large picture famed animal trainer in action with snarling Bengal Tiger

The long silver and red trains of Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, bearing a personnel of snarling jungle beasts, 29 elephants, herds of camels and zebras and the daredevil stars of the spangled firmament arrives in Camden at dawn today. 

Unloading begins immediately on the Pennsylvania tracks at River Avenue and before the morning is half gone a nomadic city of tents will spring up on the State and Cooper river show grounds, where performances ate scheduled for 2 and 8 p.m. 

Twenty separate tents comprise the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus community and they include the mammoth "big top" with its seven tons of canvas as well as the huge wild animal menagerie tent which quarters the largest zoological display on tour this year.

Pre-eminent features are many. They include Princes's Mu Kaun, Royal Padaung giraffe-neck woman from Upper Burma, where the most comely ladies have their necks stretched by means of solid brass rings to the amazing length of 14 inches; iron-nerved Clyde Beatty in a single-handed battle with 40 lions and tigers fresh from the wilds and steeped in jungle hate; the renowned Hanneford family of bareback riders featuring "Poodles," World's premier riding clown; Bombayo, the Man from India, in double somersaults' on a bounding Indian rope; the Intrepid

 Belletti troupe on the high-wire in the lofty reaches of the bigtop; "Cheerful" Gardiner with five herds of performing elephants; scores of beautiful high school horses and their pretty riders; the famous Clarkenian and Flying Hills aerial; Miss Agnes Doss and Miss Esma Wilson, stars of the high trapeze; a regiment of clowns headed by Mickey MacDonald, Earl Shipley, Otto Griebling, Paul Jerome and Joe Lewis and the gorgeous new opening spectacle, "The Soudan," embracing hundreds of people and animals in a riot of circus color and action. 

Doors will open at 1 and 7 p.m., an hour before the performances, to permit a leisurely inspection of the colossal menagerie. For the convenience of the public, a downtown ticket office will be maintained circus day at J. C. Penney's store, where grandstand chairs may be reserved and admission tickets purchased at the same prices prevailing on the show grounds.

Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus is the only railroad circus coming here this year. 

Camden Courier-Post - June 15, 1933
Just in Fun

Clyde Beatty, celebrated daredevil animal tamer is telling Larry Ruch, manager of the Grand Theatre, Camden, that none of the scenes in his picture "The Big Cage" were faked. This animal thriller will be shown at the Grand tomorrow, and Saturday. Incidentally, the gun held by Ruch, right, contains nothing but blanks, as Ruch emphatically states he has no use for, bullets of any description. 

Camden Courier-Post - June 15, 1933
150 Happy Youngsters to See Circus as Guests of Veterans

One hundred and fifty Camden schoolchildren will be guests today of two Camden American Legion Posts at the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus.

Fairview Post, No. 71, and the Raymond L. Thoirs Post will sponsor the excursion to the circus and have provided two double-decked buses to transport them.

One bus will leave Collings road and Mt. Ephraim Avenue, at 12.45 p.m. and proceed north on Mt. Ephraim to Summer School, then to Kaighn Avenue, west to Broadway, north to Clinton School; then to Camden Court House and from there to the circus grounds. 

The second bus wIUll start at the same time at Forty-second and Federal streets; west on Federal to Thirty-sixth, north to River Road, west to Twenty-seventh Street, stopping at Thirty-second, south to Federal, west to Marlton Pike and to the circus. 
The buses will gather youngsters along their routes. 

Camden Courier-Post - June 15, 1933
Participating Stores Cut Prices Despite Increases in Wholesale Values 

Today opens what probably will be the greatest community sales event in local history. It has been planned for many weeks by a number of prominent retail merchants and local manufacturers on a basis of seasonal merchandise at prices which prevailed prior to the recent advances in wholesale costs.

With thousands of South Jersey people recently re-employed and many factories working with capacity forces, in some instances on all overtime basis, the offering of merchandise at pre-inflation prices is performing a worthy service for many who have, for some time, been without employment. To all others, the "Co-operation Days" sales event presents an opportunity to get the utmost value for their dollars by exchanging them for all types of commodities on which wholesale prices have materially risen.

An excellent idea of just how substantially wholesale costs have increased- and why, of necessity, such increases must be quickly passed along to the retail buyer, is evidenced by the fact that woolens are quoted 50 percent higher; printcloths, 75 percent; copper, 60 percent; and so on throughout the whole range of raw and manufactured materials that enter into practically everything used in daily life.

Price Rises General 

Coupled with these rising wholesale costs, and of course responsible for them is the tremendous demand and the spirit of co-operation with the policies of President Roosevelt. Substantial wage increases have been put into effect in textile mills and many other lines of manufacturing endeavor.

Activity in cotton mills was reported, last week at the highest level in years and compared favorably with the best employment records in the history of the industry. Steel mills are operating at their highest level since 1931 and freight car loadings are exceeding last year's figures, Building activity is at the highest level since 1931. Grain prices have shown a tremendous rise, as have beef, sugar, coffee and a score of 
other commodities. 

More than 500 banks have been reopened throughout the country, many with restrictions lifted; during the past six weeks. All of these things are rapidly restoring public confidence and pointing the advisability of purchasing the things needed, or wanted, before prices go higher. 

Camden is particularly fortunate in having a group of far-seeing retailers who, in the face of constantly lowering price levels for the last few years, were still willing, during this event, to continue to sell their present stocks at the lowest level of prices which have prevailed during the past 20 years.

'Aid Horne Industry' 

One of the popular slogans. of the "Co-operation Days" event is "Buy What Your Neighbor Makes," and is a feature worthy of the most sincere consideration of everyone living in South Jersey. The more of those things made in local factories that are purchased locally, the greater the rate of employment and scale of wages paid to residents, friends and relatives employed by these industries. Their salaries and wages are in turn, spent for merchandise and services of local business people thus creating an endless chain that works for the greatest good of the greatest number at all times. 

It is anticipated that the sales volume recorded in the stores of the merchants sponsoring this event today, Friday and Saturday will exceed the best three-day period in their history. Entertainment features are being provided to give a holiday atmosphere to the Camden business district. Street flags are being put up and participating stores are well decorated with "Co-operation Days" window cards and pennants. 

At 11.30 today Clyde Beatty, famous youthful wild animal trainer of the Hagenbeck-
Wallace circus will stage a wrestling match with a "Depression" Tiger on the steps of City Hall and will tour the Camden business district garbed in the uniform he wears when staging his famous daily battle with numerous lions and tigers. Senate President Emerson L. Richards will deliver an opening address on the City Hall plaza at 12 noon and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Camden Post No. 980 popular band will play a number of selections. . 

Camden Courier-Post - June 16, 1933

Birthday Pig Gives Cop on Circus Duty 'Circus' of His Own

It was "circus day" two or three places yesterday, including Motorcycle Policeman Russell Young's home, at 1260 Browning Street, and police headquarters­ in fact, everywhere he went with his new pig, "Geraldine." 

Young was 29. "Geraldine" was the birthday gift from Acting Sergeant James Wilson. Presentation was at the circus lot, where Young was on duty. The pig enjoyed riding around all afternoon in Young's 
sidecar until hunger set it asqueal. 

Then it was another "circus" quieting the pet. Finally Young got a nursing bottle, some milk and got his gift to sleep and headed homeward, where "Geraldine" and her owner gave the folks a surprise party. 


Joseph Hackett, 10, colored, of 622 Sycamore Street, was treated at Cooper Hospital yesterday for a wound he said was caused when a side­show attendant at Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus threw a brick. Police could find no brick thrower. 

Camden Courier-Post
June 16, 1933

Camden Courier-Post - June 19, 1933


Armed with a contract and all set for a "clean up," Russell Fleming, 710 Sycamore Street, arrived at the scene of his work only to find the job had been usurped by a Philadelphian, Fleming told Police Judge Pancoast Saturday when he appealed to him to settle, an argument over the job. 

Fleming said he was given a contract by Hagenbeck-Wallace circus to clean up the circus grounds on State Street Friday morning after the circus had departed. For his work, Fleming said, he was to get the refuse, to be sold as fertilizer. 

He went to the circus grounds, he said, all set to go to work and found Henry Rothblath, 53, of 2549 Rees Street, Philadelphia, had already hauled away four loads. Rothblath refused to return the four loads of refuse, Fleming said, so he had him arrested.

Judge Pancoast decreed that Rothblath erred in hauling away the four loads of refuse and sent him to jail for 60 days.