The numbers may not have rivaled those of the Beatles in Shea Stadium in 1965, or Taylor Swift in Times Square last New Year’s Eve. But the crowds at each performance of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in Glasgow, Scotland, July 31 – August 6, 1904, were huge.
Following Buffalo Bill’s run in Glasgow, the Glasgow Evening News “Lorgnette” column of August 12 estimated that attendance for all the Wild West’s shows that week totaled 175,000. Tom Cunningham wrote about the Wild West show’s “Seven Days in Glasgow” for the latest issue of Points West, our member magazine. Here are some snippets from his story:
The troupe arrived on Sunday, July 31, and the first performance took place Monday at 2 PM. It drew an audience of 11,000. It wasn’t long before the word was out about the extravaganza. By Tuesday night, the crowd was at capacity, selling out shortly after 7 PM, and turning away 5,000. The crew added 4,000 seats for Wednesday, which still wasn’t enough.
All told, some 30,000 spectators viewed the show’s two performances that day. The Glasgow newspapers estimated that if Wednesday evening’s audience stood shoulder to shoulder, the line would extend ten-and-a-half miles.
The Evening News’s “Voice of the People” column had this to say about the crowds:
We have received a number of letters regarding the crush and difficulty of getting tickets at Buffalo Bill’s show last night. The writers more or less condemn the management for lack of adequate arrangements, but it is obvious that even with the most perfect arrangements possible, 18,000 people cannot get into any enclosure, and especially a temporary enclosure, without some discomfort.
Attendance records were broken on Thursday, too. Even Buffalo Bill shared his fears about the crowds with the Daily Record and Mail in its August 8 edition. “I walked round the arena, and the way in which the people were packed caused me some uneasiness, and the chief of police shared the feeling.”
But, as their stay came to an end, Buffalo Bill had a parting shot for waiting reporters:
Please express through your journal to the citizens of Glasgow my heartiest thanks for and profound appreciation of the magnificent support they gave us during the week. Glasgow has beaten all records for attendances on this side of the Atlantic…