Freedomland Amusement Park Memories
I recently bought the Freedomland video and greatly enjoyed it. I have long been looking for information on this park. I have fond memories of visiting with my mother in 1961 while we were on a trip to N.Y. from Alabama . I would have been about 6 years old and remember the stagecoach ride as well as Satellite City . We talked about the ' Chicago fire ' and the other attractions for years. It was a wonderful time and one of the highlights of our trip to N.Y. When I returned to New York some years ago, I was actually going to go to that area to have a look, but never made it up that far. It seemed difficult without a car and not knowing the bus system. I wish it was still there. Thanks for the great film. Ron
I remember Freedom land when i was a little kid it was great.I think about it when i m thinking about my uncle.Rory Garth
I'm really upset they tore down Freedomland . They should have never done it. A matter of fact, the whole thing is so damn stupid, they ought to tear down Co-Op City and rebuild Freedomland again. Either that, or rebuild it somewhere else in the Bronx. People should come together on this issue and vote for another Freedomland. Tell me how you feel.
Dear Mr Mangels:
THANK YOU...Finally someone has stepped to the plate and hit a home run in defense of Freedomland . Sadly I wish I had known you were doing such a DVD. I would have very much wanted to lend you the use of the three Freedomland tickets in my collection...
In conclusion I want to thank you for this fabulous effort and hope that with this DVD and the story as Bob tells it, the bum rap that Freedomland sometimes gets can once and for all be dispelled.
I hope you sell 2 million of them....
am a bronx puchaser of this dvd. this is an entire history lesson of freedomland. outstanding. you should make this available, at least locally. my wife does work for the bronx times reporter . perhaps this can help in getting more exposure.
There were so many great memories of Freedomland that it's hard to pick a top memory. The one that does stand out was the vivid realism of The Chicago Fire. That's the thing about Freedom land, you didn't just go to a theme park, you experienced periods of American history. It was almost like going back in history courtesy of Freedomland's time machine.
outstanding, if you remember freedomland, you must have this one
I grew up within walking distance of the park. I lived on the ridge that looked down into the valley where the park was located. Each night, I could see the fireworks from my bedroom window. With the windows open on summer nights , I could hear the distant crowd noise and occasionally hear the train whistle.
My grammar school was located near Gun Hill Road and I could look down one of the side streets all the way to the entrance and see those letters that spelled F-R-E-E-D-O-M-L-A-N-D.
It is ironic that a park with an American history theme was situated near Gun Hill Road (named after activities in the area during the Revolution ) and a site in nearby Pelham Bay Park where Patriots skirmished with British and Hessian soldiers along the Split Rock Road .
My favorite attractions were the train, Ft. Calvary, Casa Loca and the Civil War ride. At the fort, I remember the shootouts, the potential hanging of a bandit and Digger O'Toole threatening to clobber him with his shovel. How many of you remember Chuck McCann's television Halloween show from the park? Would love to see that one again.
I remember seeing " Freedomland USA"during the month of June
1960..50 years ago.
I went to the park with my father and brothers..I enjoyed seeing "The Little Old
New York"park,"The Civil War"recreation,The space flight at "Bunker"in "Satilite City"
and the train ride.
I wish that I could have seen the rest of the park and even got to see the NYC based kids
tv hosts/performers..who appeared there:"Officer Joe"Bolton,"Captain Jack"McCarthy(Who you
interviewed on your radio talk show on KLITE Radio before he died in May,1996),Claude Kirchner,
"Uncle Fred"Scott,Jimmy Nelson,Sandy Becker,Joan Thayer,"Bozo"(Bill Britten),Chuck McCann and Sonny Fox .
I would also loved to have seen"The Three Stooges"(Moe,Larry & Curly Joe De Rita),Louis Armstong
and even"Officer Toody & Muldoon"(Joe E.Ross & Fred Gwynne)..but..I didn't get the chance to see them either.
At least..you are preserving the history,memories and the joy that this forgotten theme park gave us all thru your DVD Documentary and your website.
Here are a few Kodachrome slides my dad took when we went to Freedomland in the summer of '61. We drove from our home in Columbus, Ohio to visit my aunt & uncle in Conn(my dad's brother). From there, the 10 of us went to the park. I was only 8 at the time. I remember the Chicago fire very well. Also the buckets ride.
Freedomland was an educational park and a fun place to hang out in the north Bronx in the early sixties. Most workers I dare say were under 30 years old and were ride operators or staffed the Brass Rail restaurants. (Great Summer jobs !!) If anyone remembers the Lipton Tea House (Manager Sal)or The Steakhouse ( Manager Jaime ' 64 formerly of The Plantation which closed earlier than most ))or the Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor in the Old New York area or the Southern Plantation (Fried Chicken) restaurant with its open porches , ceiling fans and greenery or Libby's Sloppy Joes Restaurant in the southwest ( manager Don ) I worked as a cashier in Libby's one year and the New York Steakhouse the next and our "office" was right by the Moonbowl so it was always fun to pass thru--seeing Paul Anka , etc The park was always clean, with upbeat music and workers were treated well and often had Brass Rail vs Freedomland softball games before our day began or after hours get togethers--just too bad it failed--it seemed to have so much potential !!!! At the very least it gave many young New Yorkers a lot of happy memories..... Funny I've been thinking about the park recently and didn't realize it was the 50th Anniversary of its opening !!! Another memory is picking up our uniforms (Lilac dresses for the female cashiers) in trailers not far from the front gate and wearing badges and having our meals.. and Alan Ehrlich the Brass Rail "honcho" who patrolled the eateries !!! Nice to have a website to reminisce !!!
My dad was a carpenter in those days and worked on the riverboat exterior trim. I remember either photos or 8mm film of the riverboat but they are nowhere to be found!
We lived in Ardsley and I never got a chance to visit Freedomland - my loss!
I worked at Freedomland for two summers, it was a great summer job paying $2/hr, which in the early 60's was good money. My brother Mike
also worked there at night as a part-time job. It was close to where we
lived on Gun Hill road which made it even better.
I worked at the Satellte City Turnpike, site where people drove cars around a track and we Freedomlanders had to slow the cars down as they drove in to the terminal by jumping on the running board and pressing the break pedal with our foot.
It was a fun job joking with customers who were there to have a good time and we employees made sure they did.
My ride was located next to the Moon Bowl and we were able to see and hear all the performers first hand.
I can't believe it is over 50 years since I worked there time flies when you
having fun, right?
It was so sad to see them tear the place down after such a short period of time, but, politics will be politics.
Thanks Freedomland for all the great memories.
Boca Raton, Fl .
I just ordered the DVD and can't wait to get it! My dad, Claude Kirchner, worked in the circus arena as Ringmaster & he drove over from Greenwich, CT daily to his summer job at Freedomland! I often accompanied him, with our without a girlfriend, and was allowed to roam the park, which baffles me now when I think of it. My favorite memories are of Casa Loca and the pavilion where rock and roll performers put on fabulous shows! I do also remember Elsie the cow, the antique car rides and the overhead sky ride. A friend just recalled that she rode a mule & both she and her friend fell off and rolled down a hill! I was age 10 - 12 when I went with my dad. I'm looking forward to the DVD to see if it will help me remember more about what was a wonderful, fabulous theme park that deserved to live forever, but sadly, didn't! Thank you for putting this together! -Lynn (Kirchner) Lavalette , Cos Cob, CT
I enjoyed Freedomland tremendously. Though I grew up in Queens, it was a short drive there (even though the Bruckner was not yet elevated, and it was always a mess).
I remember some ride that was like the Tee Cups at Disney. I convinced my friend Marty to have a sloppy joe for lunch, and then took him to the ride. Within 5 minutes, we was puking his lunch up all over the place. What a great memory!!!!
I also remember a Wild West Show that they put on, that involved a gun fight. I remember begging my parents to take me to the Wild West area of the park so we had good seats.
Historically, the replacement of Freedomland with Coop City is one of the major reasons for the collapse of the Bronx. When they built it, it acted like a sponge for the middle class, as thousands moved there, leaving their blocks and old neighborhoods behind. That void was filled with less educated and less affluence. That plus the building of the Cross Bronx has always been thought of as the two reasons the Bronx went from the jewel of New York City to the worst Borough. Where my parents grew up (in the 1920’s and 1930’s) became a slum in 35 years (when I eventually moved there to go to school at NYU….yes, there was an NYU campus in the Bronx). Too bad.
GREAT job on the Freedomland DVD. It brought back some fond memories as well as being a wonderful source of background information. This DVD and Bob McLaughlin’s "Freedomland" book are complementary and make a perfect addition to a home library. Both my sons have seen these and were captivated by how wonderful this park was.
I grew up in Queens and was 13 when I made my first trip to the park, which was then in its second season. The place really impressed me – so much so that I made a scrapbook and rated each of the rides. I recently unearthed the book to review the ratings. My system was simple: recommended and "especially" recommended. I didn’t think that there was a dog among any of the attractions. Here are my "especially" recommended picks:
· Antique car ride
· Santa Fe Railroad
· Ore Bucket
· Fur Trapper’s Ride
· Earthquake ride
· Mine Caverns
· Casa Loca*
· Mirror Maze
· Civil War
· Moon Bowl
· Satellite City Thruway
*The Casa Loca got my " Best of the Best " vote. It was such a marvelously simple concept that didn’t rely on any electrical or electromechanical components to operate. Once inside, the people’s reactions were priceless.
Maybe some other visitors to this website would like to weigh in on which attractions they thought were the best.
Remember when WMCA radio, 550 AM,
would broadcast from the Moon Bowl every Saturday night.. If you brought the DJ a pizza he would give you a WMCA Good Guys sweatshirt.
Also a walk through Casa Loco was a trip.
Ex-Highbridgeite, Fred S.
I worked at Freedom Land the first year it opened, and was standing next to Mayor Wagner when he cut the ribbon for the official opening of this fun park. My friend and I worked in the Hallmark shop. The Steerwheeler was right behind our store. One very hot afternoon, my friend and I decided the water was just too tempting, and so in we went, uniform and all. As we started to get out, there was our boss, Mr. Shembs, standing there with his hands on his hips, waiting to read us the riot act. What great fun, and wonderful memories!!