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How the Circus was Born
Circus-like displays have been enjoyed for thousands of years, and in many different cultures. The circus was created in 1770 by Philip Astley. When Astley served in the French and Indian War he worked extensively with horses. In London after the war he opened a horseback riding school. Astley used a circular performance ring for two reasons. First reason is it was easier for the riders to balance while standing on the back of a trotting horse-and the second reason is so that the audience could see everything. The word circus comes from a Latin word circle. Astley added assortment to the trick-riding displays by including clowns, acrobats, and jugglers. The modern circus, a mixture of human and animal displays, was born.
The Circus Spreads Around the World
Astley's circus was so popular that he opened another in Paris, and soon others started doing it to and it spread around the world.
American Circuses Hit the Road
The United States had very few big cities. Moving the circus was a huge process because they had to build a building instead of a tent. In the middle of the 19th century, circus owners replaced the permanent buildings with canvas tents that could be put up and taken down quickly. This process didn't cost the circus as much.
Some circuses traveled by train, others by truck. Yet to stay competative they had to find an efficient way to move the circus. Circuses became so good at moving, that military forces studied their methods of moving. Some people thought that the circus was somewhat mysterious.
On the other side some people in small towns didn't trust circus people because the different type of people that they attracted.