Etching of Mr. Bill Ricketts, "the Equestrian Hero," circa 1796.
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Image of Ricketts on horseback.

Credit: Courtesy of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

In 1792, British trick rider John Bill Ricketts settled in Philadelphia and opened an equestrian academy. The next year, he staged the new nation's first complete circus performance in his new amphitheater at 12th and Market Streets in Philadelphia. The year after this etching was made, Rickett set sail for Europe after a fire destroyed his circus and was lost at sea.

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