Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans, and some western cities have buildings called museums, opined The New York Times, but they are mere theatrical attractions compared to Barnum’s American Museum in New York City. Make that Barnum’s former museum, since the occasion for the Time’s ode, was the destruction by fire of the amazing structure at the corner of Broadway and Ann. Forget that the Times also talked of its “ever patent humbuggery with which (it) coddled and cajoled a credulous people,” it was still an honorable institution.
The always staid Times ran the story of the fire under the following headline:
Total Destruction of Barnum’s American Museum.
Nine Other Buildings Burned to the Ground.
LOSS ESTIMATED AT $1,000,000.
A History of the Museum and Brief Sketch of its Curiosities.
Scenes Exciting, Serious, and Comic at the Fire.
The Police Prompt and Vigilant—The Firemen Earnest and Active.
GREAT EXCITEMENT IN THE CITY.
Thirty Thousand People in the Streets
Pickpockets in the Crowd
Accidents and Incidents.
THIRD FLOOR FAMOUS PETRIFICATION, THREE MEN OF EGYPT,
THE FOURTH FLOOR, THE HAPPY FAMILY, ORIGIN OF THE FIRE.
SCENE WITHIN THE MUSEUM, COMIC INCIDENTS, A FEARFUL PANIC.
PROGRESS OF THE CONFLAGRATION.
ARRIVAL OF THE METROPOLITAN POLICE.
THE FLAMES EXTENDING. CLOSING OF SHOPS.
THE FIRE CHECKED.
THIEVES ARRESTED. ACCIDENTS.
LOSS OF CURIOSITIES.
THE SUFFERERS AND THE LOSSES.
Leave the sensationalism to the Daily News and the Post.
From the Times Article:
On the floor above was a collection of “sassy” monkeys, subdued dogs, meek rats, fat cats, plump pigeons, sleepy owls, prickly porcupines, gay guinea pigs, crowing cocks, hungry hounds, big monkeys, little monkeys, monkeys of every degree of tail, old, grave, gray monkeys, young, rascally, mischievous monkeys, middle-aged, scheming monkeys, and a great many miserable, mangy monkeys. Those animals and other creatures may have been happy, but they didn’t smell nicely; they doubtless lived respectable, but their anti(c)s were not pleasant to look at, and, to tell the truth, they frequently fought fiercely, and were badly beaten for it. However, they are gone; all burned to death, roasted whole, with stuffing au naturel, and in view of their lamentable end we may well say, “Peace to their ashes.”
Opinions are like assholes; everyone’s got one. ― P.T. Barnum