Barnum was well known for his showmanship, which included the hiring of terrible musicians to play outdoors on the museum’s balcony. According to Barnum:
I kept a band of music on the front balcony and announced ‘Free Music for the Million.’ People said, ‘Well, that Barnum is a liberal fellow to give us music for nothing,’ and they flocked down to hear my outdoor free concerts. But I took pains to select and maintain the poorest band I could find—one whose discordant notes would drive the crowd into the Museum, out of earshot of my outside orchestra.
– P. T. Barnum, Life of P.T. Barnum, 1888
The moving panorama of human life, as daily seen on the Broadway Pave, presents a curious and interesting picture to the student of ethnology. There you may see the lean lanky Puritan from the east, with keen eye and demure aspect, rubbing shoulders with a coloured dandy, whose ebony figures are hooped in gold.
– James Dawson Burn, Three Years Among the Working-classes in the United States During the War, 1865