Morbid Fact Du Jour For October 31, 2012

Today’s Sleazy Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The dime museum business began on New York’s Bowery Street. By 1845 the Apollo Museum was in business and with the arrival of the ’80s a mile of the Bowery had more museums than any other street in the world. There was Alexander’s Museum at 317 Bowery and Worth’s at number 99, where the owner’s amputated thumb, the casualty of a snake bite, floated in a jar in the lobby. At Bunnell’s Museum in the 100 block the standard exhibits were augmented by vaudeville and melodrama, a formula later widely adopted. The Grand Museum operated by Broken-Nose Burke at number 132 specialized in fake monstrosities and lithographs of social diseases. The New York Museum (210) featured, in person, the Ford brothers who had shot down Jesse James. At 241 Bowery the sleazy Sultan Divan ran a barmaid’s show every night that included spicy little dramas set in the Orient.

Culled from: Monsters: Human Freaks in America’s Gilded Age: The Photographs of Chas Eisenmann

If I could but go back in time…

3 comments

  1. Fake monstrosities seems hardly worth it to go to all the trouble of time-travelling to see. Now, if they were *real* monstrosities…
    Long long ago, when we were having work done on our house, the guy doing the work had accidentally cut his pinky finger off and he carried it around with him in a little jar. He offered to let me hold the thing (out of the jar) but I turned him down. At four or five I wasn’t quite as morbidly inclined as I am now.

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