New York City and the Growth of the Circus_MAIN(600) 
It may sound strange at first that the rise of New York as a cultural capital paralleled the growth of the American circus. But how different is the pageantry of Times Square from the pageantry of the Ringling Brothers, really? In 1793, John Bill Ricketts opened the first circus in New York on Greenwich Street consisting mostly of equestrian acts. Other variations of the circus followed, as well as other circus organizers, including P.T. Barnum—who brought the first African elephant to New York in 1882. Many other circus firsts happened in the Big Apple: the first trapeze act, cannon-and-bicycle stunts, the three-ring circus. In the 20th century, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus opened a new season every spring at Madison Square Garden. To learn more, step right up to the exhibition Circus and the City: New York, 1793–2010, on at the Bard Graduate Center in New York, and see more than 200 objects, including striped clown pants, vintage show posters, and photographs of early high-flying acts. Through Feb. 3. •