1-pt barnum-mailbag-new york-untapped cities-wesley yiin
Source: Circus No Spin

An Untapped reader asked us through Twitter where exactly showman P.T. Barnum lived while in New York City. An online search yielded very imprecise information, so we contacted the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Auspiciously, the museum had just started putting together a map of P.T. Barnum-related locations in New York. Here’s a roundup of some of the many locations where P.T. Barnum lived, worked, and more.

Where P.T. Barnum Lived: According to the 1870 census, Barnum is listed at 438 5th Avenue between 38th and 39th Streets. Unfortunately, it’s been demolished and the location is now home to Lord and Taylor. It looks like we’ll never know what Barnum’s true life at home looked like. (But perhaps he would have wanted it that way.)

PT Barnum-47 Bond Street-Boarding House-NYC
47 Bond Street, where P.T. Barnum owned a boarding house

Where P.T. Barnum Worked: One of the many businesses that Barnum owned in New York was a boarding house at 47 Bond Street. He leased the building to a German immigrant named Minnie Fischer, making her promise not to use it for any “immoral” purposes. However, in 1883, Fischer was arrested for keeping a “bawdy” house, and she was eventually forced to surrender the lease to Barnum.

PT Barnum-Minnie Fischer-Agreement-Boarding House-NYC-Municipal ArchivesFrom the New York City Municipal Archives

P.T. Barnum’s Museum: His museum was located on the corner of Broadway and Ann Street across from City Hall. This museum, containing a zoo, freak show, and 3,000 seat lecture hall, among other attractions, had over 15,000 visitors each day. The museum burned down on July 13, 1865 and Barnum attempted to rebuild the museum in a different location, but this building mysteriously burned down as well. Now, standing in the American Museum’s place is the J&R electronics store.

Still, there are many Barnum locations that we have yet to pinpoint. For instance, we know that Barnum opened a grocery store on South Street, but we aren’t sure where it was exactly. If you have any information that could help us, please don’t hesitate to contact us or the Barnum Museum to aid their ongoing mapping.

Get in touch with the author @YiinYangYale.  Want us to track down an obscure piece of history? Write to our Untapped Mailbag at info@untappedcities.com or through our contact page

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