Thursday, March 04, 2010

Freedomland, June 1960 - Part One

Guess what kids? I have some more Freedomland slides to share with you! These photos were taken the very month that this short-lived (only 4 years) park opened. By law you have to refer to Freedomland as "short-lived", and I ain't no commie law breaker. The slides were faded and grainy, and I have done my best to restore them to a state that won't make your eyes bleed. I'll post 'em 3 at a time in no particular order.

Freedomland had an awful lot of features that already existed at Disneyland, as today's photos demonstrate. Here's the New York version of a Horse-Drawn Streetcar (with a full load of passengers); it looks great, but like almost everything else at that park, it lacks the elegance and detail of Disneyland's version.

They had a Stagecoach too, although those could be found at the many frontier-themed parks all over the country. This one is a peach! Apparently they had problems with their stagecoaches tipping over just like Disneyland. "On June 25, 1960, about a month after the park opened, a stagecoach overturned in the Great Plains section of the park, injuring ten people. Three of the victims were hospitalized, including one with a snapped spine" (sez Wikipedia). Ouch!

That landscaping is a bit rough and artificial in appearance. Their "skyway" towers (for the "Tucson Mining Company Ore Buckets") in the background kind of destroy the "old west" effect; one senses that Walt purposely did not put his Skyway in Frontierland for just that reason.

Please excuse the blur! Yes, there was a "400 passenger sternwheel boat". Well, two of them actually! And they had calliopes on board, strangely. 400 passengers, for reals? Instead of a cruise on the Rivers of America, you took a cruise on the Great Lakes. Name them all and you win a stale cookie. No cheating! Note the two curving staircases in the bow (or "fronty part") of the boat!

Stay tuned for more Freedomland images whenever I get around to them!


Chiana_Chat said...

Cute Sternwheelers... and they don't look the least bit stern. Wonder what happened to 'em?

TokyoMagic! said...

Yeah, what happened to all this stuff after the park closed?

Connie Moreno said...

Interesting! I'd never heard of Freedomland.

Katella Gate said...

You know Disney sent spies into this place to report on what was seen. I wonder where those reports are now? Fun Reading.

Anybody know how this park was capitalized? In the scheme of things, I think Disney got a lot of mileage out of his initial $17 million. Also, just think that four years after opening D-land they had enough money and reputation to fund the Tomorrowland expansions... while four years after Freedomland opened, it closed.

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Bizarro World! "it lacks the elegance and detail of Disneyland's version" is that a nice way of saying it looks generic and plain-wrap, because it sure does.

400 people on that two-deck Steamboat? How come Disneyland's triple deck only holds 300?

I think the fact this place was totally closed in the winter months help do it in. The snapped spine indecent probably didn't help things.

Thanks for the resto work Major, these look great.

Dave Meek said...

Hmmm. Built atop a swampy, mosquito infested landfill and closed in the wintertime. Ironic that the man who helped pick the perfect location for Disneyland (Cornelius Wood) did such a poor job in picking a site for this park.

Wiki says the park cost $65 million to build. The lack of detail just goes to show what happens when you don't have someone like Walt Disney insisting on quality at every turn.

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I know that some of the attractions went to other parks, but I doubt that any of them still survive today.

Katella Gate, you are right, it would be amazing if any such reports still existed!

VDT, I *was* trying to be nice!

D.L., you make some good points... C.V. Wood got a lot of mileage out of his claims as the "master designer" of Disneyland, and yet his other parks were all bad copies of Disneyland (at best).

And anyway, I thought that Harrison "Buzz" Price famously chose the site for Disneyland?!?

Anonymous said...

HOMES = Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior. I'll take my stale cookie in a chocolate chip version. When I was a child we used to sit on the banks of Lake Erie and watch it catch fire from all the chemicals, pollution, etc. Good times. They should have set the lake on fire at Freedomland, instead of fireworks.

Nancy said...

the streetcar is pretty if plain, and a wonderful job of restoring the photo.

pretty horsies pulling the stagecoach, too.

i love the staircases on the boat, reminds me of staircases at the WDW formerly named Dixie Landings resort :D

looking forward to seeing more of Freedomland

Chiana_Chat said...

Nancy: yeah! "Magnolia Mansions" wasn't it? Also, the boat in the musical Show Boat had those stairs too.

jedblau said...

Here is some sad info about the Freedomland boats:

Also, I was fortunate to ride the Tornado ride before it was ripped out of Great Escape in NY. Here is a link to an article with those photos:

I have a LOT of other photos from Great Escape of former FL rides (Danny the Dragon, etc.), and I should get to scanning them already.

Major Pepperidge said...

Thanks Jed - so sad that those boats survived as long as they did, only to be destroyed so recently.

I'd love to read a description of the Tornado Ride from somebody who actually rode it!

Let's see those photos too.

outsidetheberm said...

Love the Freedomland stuff. Yes, Jed, please share the photos if you get the chance.

Thanks, Major.