Barnum's First Big Bamboozle

Barnum's First Big Bamboozle (HM2FGP)

Buy flags at!

N 40° 42.838', W 73° 59.845'

  • 0 check ins
  • 0 favorites

Washington's 161-Year Old Nursemaid

—Bowery & Division Street —

Barnum's First Big Bamboozle
Washington's 161-Year Old Nursemaid
Bowery & Division Street
Whether P.T. Barnum said it or not, "there's a sucker born every minute" certainly applies to the throngs that lined up at Bowery and Division Street in 1836 for his first big bamboozle - the exhibition of slave woman Joice Heth, the supposed 46-pound, 161-year-old former nurse to America's first president. Popular with audiences, Heth smoked a pipe, sang Baptist hymns and reminisced about baby George. To lure the skeptics, Barnum also exploited one critic's theory that Heath was actually a clever combination of automation and ventriloquism.
By his own admission, he bought the blind, toothless, partially paralyzed old woman for $1,000. Given the 10-hour shifts and multi-state touring schedule, he almost certainly hastened her death within just a few months of purchase. An autopsy, which Barnum sold tickets to, suggested she was probably not over 80.
The Bowery was the young Barnum's stomping ground. In addition to Heth, he exhibited song and dance acts at Vauxhall Garden (Bowery at Cooper Square), wrote advertising hype for the Bowery Amphitheatre (37 Bowery), and tried manufacturing and selling bear's grease hair-loss ointment at 101 Bowery. Barnum had his portrait mass produced at Charles Eisenman's

photography studio (229 Bowery) and spoke at Cooper Union's Great Hall.
Even after hitting the big time with Barnum's Museum on Broadway, his influence continued to be felt at the dime museums that lined the Bowery, offering in miniature the exotic exhibits and stage shows that made his museum the wonder of the age.
-David Mulkins, Historian/Educator
Placed ByBowery Alliance of Neighbors
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, April 9th, 2019 at 11:01am PDT -07:00
Sorry, but we don't have a picture of this historical marker yet. If you have a picture, please share it with us. It's simple to do. 1) Become a member. 2) Adopt this historical marker listing. 3) Upload the picture.
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18T E 584682 N 4507488
Decimal Degrees40.71396667, -73.99741667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 42.838', W 73° 59.845'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 42' 50.28" N, 73° 59' 50.7" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling North
Closest Postal AddressAt or near , ,
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

Is this marker missing? Are the coordinates wrong? Do you have additional information that you would like to share with us? If so, check in.

Nearby Markersshow on map
Check Ins  check in   |    all

Have you seen this marker? If so, check in and tell us about it.

Comments 0 comments

Maintenance Issues
  1. What country is the marker located in?
  2. Is this marker part of a series?
  3. What historical period does the marker represent?
  4. What historical place does the marker represent?
  5. What type of marker is it?
  6. What class is the marker?
  7. What style is the marker?
  8. Does the marker have a number?
  9. What year was the marker erected?
  10. This marker needs at least one picture.
  11. Can this marker be seen from the road?
  12. Is the marker in the median?