Saturday, August 13, 2022

Freedomland, USA - July 1960

Welcome to Freedomland, USA - located in The Bronx, NY! It was an American history themed amusement park that debuted a month before today's photos were taken. The development of Freedomland had many ties to Disneyland - thanks to the success of the Anaheim park, lots of entrepreneurs hoped to cash in with their own parks. 

Today's slides are from stereo views, but you only get one of the frames, because 3 dimensions is one too many if you ask me. All I need is TWO, and when I'm feeling logy, one will do. 

Let's check out this first photo, showing "Little Old New York", which was supposed to represent the Big Apple circa 1850 through 1900. So... no mimes! The flags in the distance fly above the entrance to the park. Walk into R.H. Macy and get spritzed in the face with Chester A. Arthur perfume (it was called "Forgettable!"). 

If you liked Old New York, you're gonna love Old Chicago. There was a canoe ride - if there's one thing I associate with Chicago, it's canoes. They also had a Great Lakes Cruise with two steamboats. And of course everyone held hands while watching the recreation of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, one of the most-loved conflagrations of all time. But... there was no deep-dish pizza ride - only Walt Disney would have done something as brilliant as that.

Speaking of the Great Lakes, here are all of them. I've seen them on a map, and they are only about 2.5" long, so I don't know what all the fuss is about. The "Canadian" is one of the steamboats mentioned earlier (the other being the "American"), and it is puffing away in front of that little side-wheeler ("Totsie") - Freeedomland's answer to Disneyland's Keelboats, I suppose. Notice the Santa Fe Railroad passing by on that trestle bridge: The 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge Santa Fe Railroad traveled between the Chicago and San Francisco areas of the park. The ride was approximately six minutes in duration and consisted of a loop stretching about 1 mile (1.6 km). Two locomotives named Monson No. 3 and Monson No. 4, as well as passenger coaches and flatbeds, were leased from the Edaville Railroad in Massachusetts, and transported back to the Edaville Railroad via truck in between seasons.

Guess what? I have more Freedomland U.S.A. photos for you to come!


Nanook said...

Thanks for the warning about the 2D images. I covered over one eye and the results were spectacular-!

I can't remember the last time I saw a plaid baby buggy-! (Actually, I can't remember the last time I saw a baby buggy-!)

What's with all the river traffic-? It really does look like a poor man's Rivers of America-!

I wonder if the park would've developed into something that felt a bit 'more developed', if given the time. All the photos seem to depict a park that was "on the way" to something. I'm just uncertain what that 'something' was.

Thanks, Major.

Anonymous said...

That Chicago Fire exhibit is ‘something’! While they were at it, they could’ve added an Eastland boat-tipping exhibit/re-enactment in that river (just Google ‘Chicago Eastland 1915 boat accident,’ if you’re not familiar with it). I’m not making light of that Eastland accident—just the poor choice for the exhibit representing my hometown and yours, Major.

Love the commentary, Major. Thank you.


DBenson said...

I've read about Freedomland. The Chicago Fire re-enactment was audience participation: Several times a day one building would ignite, and kids would man the pumps as a fire brigade put it out.

There was also a San Francisco Earthquake dark ride, and an outdoor wagon tour of the Civil War. Also a kiddie train that looked like a dragon; its historical significance was unclear.

JB said...

Major, I got a good chuckle from your Chester A. Arthur "Forgettable" joke. NOBODY remembers we had a president Arthur. (Not sure why... I forget.)

In the first photo, the guy on the right, in the blue shirt, looks like a New Yawkuh straight outa central casting: Vinny (the chin) Cannelloni. A blue collar (literally) type of guy.

In number 2: Yellow shirt guy looks sorta like Babe Ruth throwing out the first pitch. And red shirt guy (with vertical stripes) looks kind of awkward. I don't think that style of shirt looks right on him for some reason. Maybe it's because his pants are hiked-up too high.

Number 3: Were Freedomland's paddle wheelers on a track, like at Disneyland? The train looks STUFFED with people! Actually, as Nanook noted, there seem to be a lot of people on all the transportation rides. Maybe because the park was still brand new at this point. I'm guessing the park attendance dwindled, and that's why it shut down after a couple of years.

Thanks for more Freedomland pics, Major. (It's been a while since the last posting.)

TokyoMagic! said...

Is everyone standing in those train cars, or just some of the people? It looks like an accident waiting to happen, although I know DL had standing room-only train cars, for a while.

It looks like they even added a couple "charred trees" in front of the Old Chicago ruins, for authenticity. I wonder if there was a "meet 'n' greet" with Mrs. O'Leary and her cow?

Thanks for the trip to Freedomland, Major!

Anonymous said...

Important announcement:
Andrew just posted about his Disneyland trip! I haven’t read it yet—but will do so now...bye!


JG said...

Wow, the last pic is the Rivers of America in a cracked mirror. A spectacular stern wheeler. Maybe that statistic Disney throws out about the Mark Twain being the only riverboat built in 60 years (or something like that) isn’t fully accurate?

I’m guessing that the grim subject matter might have had something to do with the drop in attendance. What kind of new attractions would Freedomland open? An exhibit on the 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic? Add the Triangle Shirtwaist fire to the Chicago exhibit? The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake?

Disney sold escapism and transportation porn with only a few “hard facts”, while Freedomland appears to be all “hard facts”.

Thanks for these photos, Major. Would never have known about this place without you.


JG said...

Oh wait, I see DBenson says they had an Earthquake exhibit. Wow, harsh.


Omnispace said...

Nanook, You wonder what Freedomland was evolving into if only it had been more successful. Although one can't say for certain, the designer of the park did go on to create Six Flags Over Texas, Astroworld, Great America, and Magic Mountain, to name a few.

Yeah, the "something goes horribly wrong" theme was taken to the extreme at Freedomland but kids did get to help put out the Great Chicago Fire! Thanks for the pics Major!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, if covering one eye worked well, just imagine how it would work if you covered both of them! I love that plaid buggy, and would probably give that lady the “Best Buggy” award if I hadn’t already sold it on the black market. I enjoy the busy river (just like when it’s at another park), especially the “Totsie”. Did you know that on the other side, it says “Hotsie”? Ha ha! See what I did there? It is very intriguing to ponder on how Freedomland might have evolved, hopefully it would have had a “Battlestar Galactica” land with walk-around cylons.

Sue, how did you know I’m from Chicago? Is it because I have mentioned it 50 times? Yeah, that’s probably it. I suppose that disasters have been a subject of amusement park attractions for many decades, with tornado rides, “great flood” attractions, earthquake rides, and so on. Even Universal Studios Hollywood has an earthquake segment on their tram tour. It’s pretty cool, actually.

DBenson, I would have cranked up those fire hoses to full pressure. Let’s see how tough those 8 year-olds are now! Not so cool, are you, Timmy? ARE YOU? I guess I showed him. Sure, there was a Civil War ride, but Reader’s Digest voted the Civil War as the “Most Fun War”, and I can’t argue with Reader’s Digest.

JB, as a kid I was always fascinated by the Presidents who were completely unknown to me. Rutherford B. Hayes? Millard Fillmore? I wish I had a cool mob nickname, maybe “Nine Fingers Pepperidge”. I’d have to cut off one finger, but it would be worth it. Red Shirt guy just remembered that he left the bath running AND the stove is on, and he’s not so sure about the iron that was on the ironing board. I don’t know much about the Freedomland steamboats, but assume that they were on a track. Maybe not though.

TokyoMagic!, it looks to me like everyone is standing. The old “cattle car” experience, which we have all dreamed of since we were little dogies. Back when Freedomland was being built, you could buy charred trees at Sears (in the “husky boys” department, for some reason). I’d love to meet Mrs. O’Leary, they should have her being ostentatiously careless with fire. Waving a torch around while drinking kerosene, and such.

Sue, OH MAN! Right after I’m done with these comments, I’m going to take a nap, then eat a BLT, and then go to Andrew’s blog!

JG, I assume that the publicity about the Mark Twain being the only riverboat built in 60 years was pre-Freedomland. Or did they keep on blathering on about it even after 1960? Because that would make them dirty liars and poo poo heads. I would have enjoyed a “Dust Bowl” or “Locusts Eating Crops on the Great Plains” attraction, personally. “Look, mother, those people are ever so sad!”. “Quiet, Nine Fingers, I’m counting my money”. I’m glad you liked these!

JG, my understanding is that the Earthquake attraction was moved to another park, maybe Cedar Point. It might not have been PC, but I sure wish I could have seen it.

Omnispace, maybe Freedomland would have morphed into another “coaster park”, vying for the longest, tallest, fastest roller coaster, like so many other parks do as the years pass. Just give them historical names like the “Pony Express” or whatever. Magic Mountain has the Gold Rusher!

Chuck said...

JG, the Earthquake ride did move to Cedar Point. It was absolutely terrifying when I was three and fascinatingly fun when I was fifteen. I was unable to muster the courage to ride it at any point in between. Of course it was torn out the very next year. I did manage to pick up a commemorative T-shirt last year, though.

Stu29573 said...

They should have had an "End of the World As We Know It" ride that played the R.E.M. song over and over kind of like a certain children of the world themed Disneyland attraction.

Stu29573 said...

Ok, I'm going to be "that guy." What's Andrew's blog's name?

JB said...

The comments are particularly silly and absurd today... I love it!

Anonymous said...

Might as well add the Chicago stockyards—and hands-on slaughterhouse. Don’t forget nearby Bubbly Creek—which still bubbles to this day. You can Google the reason why, if you’re curious.


Anonymous said...

Bayern Kurve Blog


Stu29573 said...

Thanks, Sue!

Anonymous said...

Haha, Freedomland never had a chance, for growing up and be anything besides the huge housing complex it is today.
It was built as a scam, always intended to be torn down quickly and developed over…legally, once the land had been used, it could be re-used for real estate. Destruction was its theme and purpose.

Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, so cool that you got to ride the Earthquake ride! I really have no concept of what it was like, but in my imagination it was the perfect combination of cheesy and amazing.

Stu29573, I like R.E.M. just fine, but… wouldn’t it be weird to hear their music at an amusement park?

Stu29573, I see that Sue answered your question, thanks Sue.

JB, I thought the comments were ALWAYS silly!

Sue, kids could experience what it was like to actually slaughter a cow or a pig. So fun!

Sue, gracias.

Stu29573, I hope you go check it out.

Anonymous, you might be right, I don’t know enough about the details. I could easily see the failure as being the result of a series of bad business decisions along with the World’s Fair siphoning customers away.



“Experience nothing but that hard facts that built America !! ….. relive the Roanoke Lost Colony ….. the 1821 San Joaquin Valley Drought….. California’s most severe drought even Spain gave up!!…. The Great New Orleans Flood of 1780… 1792…. 1797…..1801 … 1811…. 1818…..or any of the the 611 New Orleans floods …. Or the Ragtimey Jamestown Flood ……. The great new Madrid earthquake of 1835 - the biggest recorded earthquake of North America!- see the Mississippi River reverse direction!! Thrill to any of the 19 Great Chicago Fires ….. see Seattle warf fall into the sea in 1875…… or the Great San Diego fire of 1872…. Relive the Sant Louis Small Pox outbreak and the great San Francisco 1906 earthquake ……. experience the Galveston Hurricane - when the ocean met the land !! …. Enjoy the delicious Donner Party Pioneer BBQ ….. and scratch to your hearts content at the Los Angeles PULGAS flea infestation on 1884!!!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Mike, hahahahaha!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Mike, you forgot about reliving the "Great Molasses Flood" a/k/a the "Boston Molasses Disaster" of 1919. See HERE!

Dean Finder said...

As everyone suggested here, CV Wood's Freedomland failed because seasonal operation limited income and the NYWF took a lot of their expected crowds for those years. Too bad they couldn't have worked with the NYWF to create some kind of combo ticket to extend visitor's stays.
I read elsewhere that Freedomland's financial trouble led Disney to rule out any place where they couldn't have 12 month operations when looking for a location for Disney World. He turned down the chance to run some attractions at Flushing Meadows after the NYWF ended.