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P.T. Barnum said, "There's a sucker born every minute" -- and that's especially true in Denver

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P.T. Barnum.
"There's a sucker born every minute," P.T. Barnum supposedly said

That includes all those suckers who still believe the stories about how Barnum, the founder of the Greatest Show on Earth, which rolled into town yesterday, called Denver home over a century ago.

The Greatest Show on Earth was originally called P. T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Menagerie, Caravan and Circus, and survives today as the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which will offer ten days of performances starting tomorrow -- and is already inspiring a PETA sideshow regarding the treatment of its elephants.

Barnum, a world-famous showman, coined the terms "Siamese Twins" and "Bearded Lady" and invented the concepts of the three-ring circus and modern marketing. In one famous hoax, "suckers" handed over their hard-earned money for a glimpse of an African-American woman named Joice Heth, who Barnum claimed was the 161-year-old former nursemaid of George Washington. When ticket sales started to falter, Barnum changed the story, claiming that Heth (who was actually eighty) was a machine made of whale bone and leather. The exhibit's popularity soared once again.

Barnum was also a wheeler-dealer, making money by buying up land and building hotels around the country. In 1871, he bought a 765-acre tract near what was then Denver, part of which is now the Barnum neighborhood. But Barnum was the sucker in that deal: Instead of the elegantly landscaped area he had been promised by the Chicago businessmen who sold him the land, it was a giant mud puddle. Barnum sold off some of it and turned the rest into Barnum Town, which Denver later annexed. And Barnum never lived on any of it, according to this 2001 Westword cover story, which took the show out of the showman.

But local legend still has Barnum housing his circus entourage, including his famed elephants, in Barnum Town -- and there's even a photo that allegedly shows an elephant pushing a circus train up Boreas Pass to Breckenridge.

As Barnum said -- or did he? -- there's a sucker born every minute.


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1 comments
MBarnum
MBarnum

I know this article is dated but its sheer ignorance and the fact that it came up in top results from a web search for P.T. Barnum in 2014 deserves some reply.  First of all you are right Barnum never said "There's a sucker born every minute" this was probably actually said by david hannum owner of the nefarious 'cardiff giant' in response to Barnum's introduction of his own unearthed 'giant' (so he was essentially insulting his own customers too since giants don't exist).  Also it wasn't Barnum who claimed that Joice Heth was George Washington's nursemaid she was a slave who was taken on tour by the man who owned her and advertised that claim.  Barnum purchased and freed her (since he was a staunch abolitionist), provided for her for the rest of her life and gave her a cut of the profits. I really can't say as i take issue with people, or 'suckers' as you call them spending a nickel to support a geriatric ex-slave, and live in an escapist fantasy, hell we spend $17 to do the same and all we support is a bunch of hollywood executives' cocaine habbits.  Please fact check your articles before you demonize people especially the dead because they can't speak for themselves.

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