John Robinson's Circus


This 1929 photograph shows the interior of John Robinson's Circus during a spectacle, or “spec,” performance of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba in Cincinnati, Ohio. In the American circus, the spec developed as a procession that took place around the hippodrome track inside the big top, or circus tent, featuring as many of the performers and animals as the circus director was able to costume. John Robinson’s Circus was especially known for its dazzling productions of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, which offered a prime opportunity to showcase the exotic camels, lions, elephants, and tigers in the circus’s menagerie as well as dancing girls and other artists. John Robinson's Circus was a typical, average-sized circus that would travel by railroad to different cities and towns. The tent shown here holds three display rings, two of which can be seen. The tent is held up by center poles, two rows of quarter poles, and the side poles. Aerial rigging can be seen suspended above the rings from the tops of the poles. The area between the rings and the seating, known as the hippodrome track, was used for specs and other presentations.

Last updated: December 14, 2012