TIME

The last act. After 146 years, the circus is leaving town for good

Weeks before the lights go down for the last time on the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, tigers and lions perform on April 28 in Baltimore’s Royal Farms Arena

Though it might sound quaint, there was a time when people could be astonished. Before supercomputers fit into shirt pockets and Presidents tweeted. Before moving pictures were beamed through the air. Before moving pictures.

Not only could people be astonished—they enjoyed it. Loved it enough to pay for it. And so businesses sprang up to meet the demand. The astonishment industry was called the circus.

Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson and his son Matthew get ready for one of their final crowds

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from TIME

TIME2 min readPolitics
China’s Cautious Waiting Game In Hong Kong
HONG KONG’S PROTESTS continue. The unrest began in response to a proposed law that would allow Hong Kong to extradite its citizens to face prosecution in mainland China’s court system, a plan that stoked fears China could use the law to seize politic
TIME2 min read
For the Record
‘His is a government with no mandate, no morals and, as of today, no majority.’ JEREMY CORBYN, leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, on Sept. 3, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party lost its majority after one lawmaker defec
TIME5 min readPolitics
Former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power Has A Lot Of Stories To Tell—and No Problem Talking
“I BELIEVE IN OVERSHARING,” SAYS SAMANTHA Power. She’s not kidding. Her answer to the journalistic equivalent of a warm-up pitch—So how’s teaching going?—is 16 minutes long and touches her views on geopolitics, Ebola, diplomacy, Facebook, President T