No. 448
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
November 18, 2019

The Terrific Leap at Niblo’s Garden, From an Aerial Apparatus.

The original and daring aerial representation by Thomas Hanlon, now performed by him every evening a
January 11, 2016
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Chapter 2
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Scene of the Debbins murder Walter R. Debbins was shot twice in the back, in broad daylight, on Highland Street in Medford, Massachusetts, on the afternoon of Saturday, March 27, 1897. Though no one saw the murder or heard the gunshots, there was enough traffic on Highland Street that afternoon for the police to precisely pinpoint the time of the shooting to between 1:00 and 1:05. But
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[Editor’s note: Guest writer, Peter Dickson, lives in West Sussex, England and has been working with microfilm copies of The Duncan Campbell Papers from the State Library of NSW, Sydney, Australia. The following are some of his analyses of what he has discovered from reading these papers. Dickson has contributed many transcriptions to the Jamaica Family […]
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The Terrific Leap at Niblo’s Garden, From an Aerial Apparatus.

Terrific Leap

 

The original and daring aerial representation by Thomas Hanlon, now performed by him every evening at Niblo's Garden. [more]

It is very seldom that we have to chronicle such a feat as that which we illustrate in our present number, and which is nightly performing at Niblo’s Garden. It is universally acknowledged as being the chef d’oeuvre of gymnastic genius. Although no description can do justice to it, we will endeavor to give our readers some idea of Thomas Hanlon’s magnificent daring. He first performs many gymnastic feats, perfectly marvelous, with and upon six sticks connected together and swinging in the air. He hangs by the nape of the neck, by the toes, by the knees, in every possible attitude leaping and winding through the sticks or short ladder and recovering his balance with great adroitness. Every gymnast will bear witness that, considering the many chances of falling which the acrobat runs and against which no skill can guard, this is beyond question the most terrifically dangerous exhibition ever seen in New York. The enthusiastic delight with which it has been received by crowded houses and applause, shows that its danger as well as the skill displayed were fully appreciated.

After thus astounding this audience, he suddenly darts from the slender platform, and taking a terrific leap, grasps a rope at least twenty feet distance, which hangs form the rigging loft of theatre, and after swinging on it for some short time, lets himself down on the stage. This appalling act of labor and ingenuity must be seen to be appreciated; the most elaborate description sounds tame after witnessing it, and when seen it takes the breath away from the spectator, since, should he miss his hold nothing could save him from instant destruction. It is undoubtedly the boldest, the most reckless gymnastic feat ever attempted.


Reprinted from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, January 28, 1860.