Feature Vol. IV, No. 5

A Night at Niblo’s Garden featuring Bindlestiff Family Cirkus

A twilight picnic at this re-creation of New York City’s premier 19th Century theater


On the evening of Saturday, July 11, New York City’s historic Green-Wood Cemetery was transformed into a            19 th-century pleasure garden and theater to celebrate its permanent resident William Niblo (1789–1878).  The one-of-a-kind outdoor show and picnic at the site of Niblo’s grand mausoleum featured entertainment curated by Bindlestiff Family Cirkus. Directed by Keith Nelson, the outdoor performances had the 19th-century flair of Niblo’s theater, dazzling guests with historic games, fire eaters, contortionists, and much more. The picnic and rollicking show surrounded one of Green-Wood’s beautiful glacial ponds, in front of William Niblo’s stately mausoleum.

The show featured brass bands, a hurdy-gurdy, the works of Helen Keller, candle and fire spectacles, two clowns in a canoe, and a floating contortionist. The cast featured circus and variety artists including Stephanie Monseu, Ekaterina Sknarina, Mark Gindick, Adam Kuchler, Kelsey Strauch, Keith Nelson, Viveca Gardiner, Justin Weber, and Michael Richter. Guests were encouraged to bring blankets, picnic dinners and beverages as they stepped back in time with author, historian and Niblo expert Ben Feldman. After the show, Niblo’s mausoleum was open for candlelit exploring.

William Niblo himself visited his Green-Wood mausoleum regularly before he was interred there.

Niblo’s Garden was the Radio City Music Hall of its day. It featured acrobats, vaudeville, dramas, musical concerts, and operas and was considered the destination for entertainment in New York City.  Niblo’s is also famous as the site of America’s first piece of musical theater. The fashionable theater-garden, located in Manhattan on Broadway between Prince and Crosby seated 3,200 persons. It was demolished in 1895.


See Maike Schulz’ photo gallery of this unique event.