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I am looking for a circus or carnival floor plan, and even combining several search terms ("grounds" "site" "floor plan" and "carnival" and such) I have not been able to find one. Circus history sites do not seem to have them, either. What I am looking for is something like a hand plan of a circus ring and the carnivals that used to go with them circa 1900, I'd like to know the layout which I expect to be very precise to extract the maximum amount of money out of the "marks" (or customers) for a novel project I'm doing but in general I'd like to know if there's a good source for maps or architectural plans from that era. I have also checked the Digital Public Library of America, and there does not seem to be anything there either (looking for circus grounds, mainly)

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Are you looking for the layout of a single tent, or of an entire carnival? –  Joe Jun 3 '13 at 6:17
    
Entire carnival, a single tent is easy to find. I edited the title to reflect that, thanks. –  jjmerelo Jun 3 '13 at 7:58
    
Off topic: You might be interested in checking out our sister site, Writers Stack Exchange. –  Yannis Rizos Jun 3 '13 at 8:46
    
What a great question, and frustratingly difficult to run down online - we all know the midway, the sideshow, the rides, but tracking down how were they separated and organized in practice is proving a tough row to hoe. –  RI Swamp Yankee Jun 3 '13 at 14:28
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2 Answers

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Have you tried any circus libraries? Milner Library at Illinois State University has one of the world's largest circus collections in their Special Collections and Rare Books Room. I don't know if they would have a floor plan, but it might be worth asking their librarian. If they do, they may be able to make you a scan depending on the condition of the map. They can be contacted at mbruns1@ilstu.edu or 1(309)438-2871.

Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin also has a library, the Robert L. Parkinson Library and Research Center. They might be a good place to contact. Here's their website: http://circusworld.wisconsinhistory.org/Library/AboutResearchCenter.aspx

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Searching "layout" returns only this circus.pastperfect-online.com/30070cgi/… There is also a circus map, sans the carnival, but it's actually quite useful. I'l try contacting them anyways, thanks. –  jjmerelo Jun 7 '13 at 9:52
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I found at least a general description of the layout of a carnival (sans circus) in the Carny Lingo page:

The layout of the typical full-featured carnival was a time-tested pattern >designed to draw crowds all the way through the entire carnival and maximize their spending. The carnival was always laid out in the shape of a horseshoe.

It does not include a circus, but my guess is that it would go either midway in an extended horseshoe, with gate facing the arch or just opposite the arch.

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