Circus Horror Memorial.

Circus Horror Memorial

Field review by the editors.

Hartford, Connecticut

On July 6, 1944, the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus was hosting a show on a hot afternoon in the big top tent. The crowd was mostly moms and children. The canvas tent, waterproofed with wax, caught fire. Between the flames, smoke, dripping melted wax, and stampede to escape, over 700 people were injured and at least 168 died.

It was the worst circus disaster in U.S. history, and was called "The Day the Clowns Cried." 13-year-old Charles Nelson Reilly, best known for his later appearances on TV quiz shows, was one of the survivors, and avoided indoor crowds for the rest of his life.

The field where the tent stood is now the back yard of an elementary school. On July 6, 2005, a memorial was erected on the spot, featuring a dome-shaped monument that marks the center of what was the circus ring.

Circus Horror Memorial

Wish Elementary School

Address:
371 Barbour St., Hartford, CT
Directions:
On the east side of Barbour St., midway between Cleveland Ave. and Kensington St. You'll see a small sign just to the north of Wish Elementary School. Park on the street, then follow the walking path to the back of the school and the memorial.
Save to My Sights

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In the region:
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