Freedomland: the Bronx’s 1960s theme park

Brooklyn has Coney Island. Queens had Rockaways’ Playland. And from 1960 to 1964, the northern Bronx neighborhood of Baychester had Freedomland U.S.A.

Conceived and built by a Disneyland exec, Freedomland’s theme was, well, freedom. The theme park was shaped like America and featured various attractions based on United Sates’ history.

“The Old Southwest” area offered burro rides. Civil War battles were reenacted. Visitors could hang out in the Chicago section and help put out the Chicago fire. This old video clip can give you an idea.

The idea must have sounded great, but in the end, Freedomland never made a profit. After it was razed, developers built massive Co-Op City in its place.

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76 Responses to “Freedomland: the Bronx’s 1960s theme park”

  1. Retro????? Says:

    […] Freedomland: the Bronx's 1960s theme park « Ephemeral New York […]

  2. Margie Says:

    I have some memory of being taken there as a child. What I remember the most about it was the moving sidewalk in the City of the Future. I wonder why those never caught on.

  3. DeanLand Says:

    It seems only fair that you should now seek some photos and background about Kiddie City, a Queens outdoor park that operated for a good many years. Many thought that Freedomland would ring the death knell for Kiddie City.

    • Ken B. Says:

      I have some photos of me and my kid sister at Kiddie City in the late 1950s. We grew up in Bayside near the long, long gone Oakland Golf Course. Lots of fond memories of KC: the Roto-Jet, bumper cars, a pretty good roller coaster. I believe the golf driving range might still be in the vicinity? Maybe not. I will scan the photos and send them once I explore this site; it’s my 1st time here.

      • Bruce Levin Says:

        i lived at 214 st AND 64 AVE. i remember jahns, the a and p, waldbaums. Lampsons. I have lived in so cal for over 36 years.

  4. recharger the dog Says:

    When I was 10, I was one of the “volunteers” on that pump that put out the Chicago fire–the bar clunked me right on the head–I still feel the pain.
    That’s pretty much all I remember about Freedom Land.

  5. Christine Lites Says:

    Anyone remember “Adventurers” on Central Ave in Yonkers? How about some pictures of the old Playland, at Rye Beach. I remember these places from the 1950’s.

  6. Ruth Edebohls Says:

    Visited Freedomland when I was 16 or 17 with my boyfriend and friends 50 or so years ago. Loved the place and was sorry I never got to go back. A more innocent time! I remember the jingle on TV advertisements of the day:

    Mommy and Daddy take my hand,
    Take me out to Freedomland,
    $2.95 is all you pay
    For Freedomland all day!

  7. wildnewyork Says:

    New York’s amusement park past–now that’s an upcoming post! I seem to recall seeing ads for the Nellie Bly Amusement Park in Brooklyn somewhere.

  8. Laura Says:

    Wow, I’d never heard of Freedomland, and am now sorry I’ll never get to go!

    THanks for the post!

  9. Cathy Says:

    Does anyone remember anything about the freedom train? What about the commemorative stamps?

  10. Dee Says:

    I remember going to Freedomland as a youngster and loved being there each time! think it was only open during the warm months of the early 1960s, and when the NY World’s Fair of 1964-65 opened, poor Freedomland lost the crowds/money and closed in 1964. I always thought it would reopen when the World’sFair ended. Like good things, Freedomland came to its end. Now we have a shopping center and housing instead, but I guess it was needed.

  11. day Says:

    Does anyone remember an amusement park on Bruckner Blvd where Korvettes used to be on White Plains Road and Bruckner?

    • Bronxdale Native Says:

      Yes, I remember it, but forgot the name? Thought it was “Freedom Land” way before it was located to where “Co-op City” is now? Went there a lot in the late ’50’s – early ’60’s…..I remember, mostly, the “bumper cars”! Wasn’t there a small sized “roller coaster” and a place to eat called the “Doggie House”??

    • Alan Says:

      It was Funland. I was in 6th grade and we climbed over the fence when it was closed. We turned on the rides and played for hours. Later adults broke in, stole the carousel horses and were pushing the bumper cars down Story Ave! It was torn down shortly after.

    • Marcos Rodriguez Says:

      The kiddie amusement park on brucknerd Blvd was Funland

  12. David S. Rose Says:

    For Cathy, who asked about the train, the only surviving structures from Freedomland are the train stations, which today serve as the gift store/depot for the Hobo Railroad in Lincoln, NH, a neat tourist train line that winds through the Lakes Region of New Hampshire (and is also host to the legendary Caboose Train, a consist of 20 privately owned cabooses that take periodic weekend trips along the line, pulled by engines from the Hobo RR…)

  13. billy Says:

    Freedomland opened on June 19,1960 and closed in 1964 after five seasons in operation,the main reason freedomland closed was because of pressure to built co-op city which was built on freedomlands huge parking lot,a shopping center was built on the freedomland site in 1994,today all that remains of freedomland is the base of the freedomland Inn and some of the fur trapper ride,I have been to disney world eight times and disneyland once freedomland was the best of them all,1964 a rollercoaster was bought at the cost of a million dollars from Italy,it costs in 1959 17million to built freedomland 15million to built disneyland,65million spent on new rides&upgrades&repairs,1965 and 1966 freedomland was to expand its operation,over forty major companys were involved in freedomlands operation, it was a great park.

    • Camille A Gitter Says:

      Thanks for the information. Didn’t know all this. What a shame it had to go away to make room for the co-ops & malls!!

  14. Kevin Butler Says:

    I was lucky enough to see “Freedomland USA”..in June of 1960..51 years ago.
    My father and brothers and I saw the launching of a rocket in the bunker at
    “Satilite City”,we saw the war between the states and “Little Old New York”.

    I enjoyed being there…but..my father and brother hated being there and
    we never went back there again..Damn IT!

    I missed a chance to see the rest of the attractions and enjoy the rides..
    I also missed a chance to see “The Three Stooges”,Mr.Louis Armstrong,
    Joe E.Ross & Fred Gwynne as”Police Officer Toody & Muldoon”from”Car54:
    Where Are You?!”and the NYC based kids tv hosts/performers appear at the
    park.

  15. Kathy White Says:

    I remember this well. My father got tickets as a gift to the pre-opening day. It was a real treat for us. I remember going once more with my friends and having a great time. Disney made sure our generation learned our American history. Many years later my son came home with a disk slide of the park which we still have. the one thing I never understood is Why Disney never acknowledged this Park in their history of parks. Is a shame what Politics can do sometimes. Co Op city is no accomplishment compared to what Disney could have built there, had they stuck it out .

    • Rich C. Says:

      this was not a Disney park.

      • billy Says:

        True, But Mr. C .V. Wood Found the land designed and built Disneyland & Freedomland which was called Disneyland equal on the East Coast or the Disneyland of the East,1963 there was talk of Mr. Wood & Mr. Disney ending their differences one must wonder if this happened what Freedomland would look like today.

  16. Bruce Levin Says:

    i now live within walking distace of Knotts Berry Farm.

  17. frank Says:

    The freedomland jingle went like this-
    Hey mommy and daddy take my hand
    take me out to freedomland
    lots of fun for everyone
    only 2.95

  18. Ray Iraci Says:

    When I was a kid my dad’s union, Local 3, would have a Freedomland Day (only 25 cents to get in). I remember the Chicago Fire and the Stagecoach Ride that was attacked by Indians. I also fondly remember seeing a young Paul Anka in concert there. Years ago I saw Paul again in concert and he showed a movie clip of that concert. It was Mayor Wagner who condemned the place to build Co-Op City. It wasn’t about profitability that closed Freedomland, it was politics.

  19. billy Says:

    In 1990 the Disney Company was going to Built Disney America in Virginia which would have been a twin of Freedomland But the Community was against the New Theme Park so Disney canceled all plans in 1994,Again this shows that if Disney was going to Built a park like Freedomland then they thought highly of freedomland! 1964 Walt Disney wanted to Built a Disney Park in N.Y.C.1990 The Disney Company again wanted to Built a Theme Park in N.Y.C. both times were rejected by City Officals I hope in the future they allow Disney to expand to N.Y.C. Just think of all the Jobs it would create and Funds brought into N.Y.C.

  20. phil c Says:

    I remember going to freedom land in the bronx and pumping water to put out the chicago fire and the best thing that i did there was i was put on stage to dance with singer abbey lane ahh good memories

  21. phil c Says:

    Does any one remember fairyland park on queens blvd right next to foodland in the 60 s?

  22. EdF Says:

    The Stan Kenton Orchestra made an appearance at Freedomland. I believe it was in 1963. I saw them there. Does anyone remember this? Thanks, Ed

  23. Alex Says:

    was Freedom land on Queens Blvd.?

    • billy Says:

      Alex no it was not on Queens Blvd, Queens N.Y.Freedomland was in the Baychester Section of the Bronx N.Y. From 1960 to 1964 for five seasons Freedomland was the Largest Amusement Park in the World,you can read my two other posts in regards to that great amusement park.

  24. Bob Says:

    In the early sixties my parents would
    Rent a bungalow at the Jersey Shore
    For a week.
    On Daf’s section week of vacation we would
    Make day trips N Y or Philadelphia:
    Yankee Stadium Mantle & Maris home run
    Summer, Rivoli Theater to see Ben Hur, Coney Island once, Rockaway, & one time
    We went to Freedomland.
    But when the N Y Worlds Fair opened for 2 years & The N Y Mets Shea Stadium was brand new right next the Fair Grounds families
    flocked to Queens for 2 years &
    Freedomland could not survive.
    Palisades Amusement Park in Palisades
    N J also closed during that period.
    But I have plenty of fine memories of
    All these venues.
    They were all not cheap for a full day
    For a family of 6! But Mom & Dad treated us
    well because they had very modest times as kids during The Depression!

  25. tim Says:

    I was eight when Freedomland opened. My Dad too us all. He must have gotten a deal, because 2.95 times six was alot of money back then. My two sharpest memories were the hats with the embroidered names on them ( I think you got them at the Macy”s exhibit). The other being the sattelite city. They had this giant flying saucer that had a ride in it. Also the moving sidewalk, how cool was that in 1960. I often feel bad when I realize after our generation, all these great place will cease to exist with no one to remember them. Thanks everyone it was a great ride.

  26. billy Says:

    Freedomland did not close because of the 64-65 Worlds Fair , the main reason was because of pressure to Build Co-op City and all the money that was made from Freedomlands Sale, this is a Fact. I enjoyed the 64-65 Fair but it was not approved by the Worlds Fair Comm.in France for that lost Funds,The costs of the Fair was to be 250 million to 500 million the costs of Shea and Highways made the Final costs 1.1 Billion dollars less then forty percent of the people went to the Fair that they expected sadly the Fair lost money from day one,one of the main factors in closing Palisades Amusement Park in the late 60s they started having problems so they closed the park today it is the same story with Rye Playland,I went to Freedomland six times ,What makes me happy that everyone enjoyed that Great Park we will never have another one like Freedomland,since 1965 it buged me why did it close ? So I did alot of research to find out all the facts.Last in 1964 and 1990 The Disney Company wanted to Build a Theme Park in Flushing Meadow Park it would be nice if our elected officals allow this ,lets say Disneys Freedomland change from Disneys America just think of all the jobs and funds brought into N.Y.C. it can be done.

  27. D. Batey Says:

    I remember visiting Freedomland once. However, I also remember a smaller amusement park along Bruckner Blvd. Bronx Funland amusement park. Closed in 1966. My folks took me there a lot. I’ve been trying to find information on the park but its as if its been forgotten. I saw a earlier post from October 2010 by Bronxdale native. Whoever this person is, at least they remember. I too am a Bronx native, no longer living in The Bronx but have wonderful memories of this place.

  28. S.vince Says:

    I remember funland! We as kids would go almost every week my Grand mother lived right across the street. and yes it sat where the bruckner sits today right across from EJ Korvettes…and it is sad to think that there is nothing on the net about it..

    • Joanne milani Says:

      Came upon this group searching funland on bruckner.blvd. I have photo of myself on the rides how can I share them my email is j.milani@att.net

      • D.Batey Says:

        Hi Joanne, I saw your post regarding Funland. Do you have a timeframe/date of the photo at the rides? Feel free to email me at bronx.mujer@verizon.net

      • D.Batey Says:

        Joanne, re: Funland, I recall that it existed prior to the Pathmark supermarket being built. I was quite young at the time but my folks would take me there pretty much on Sunday’s, rather frequently. I just loved it there. My mom was rather fond of enjoying having potato knishes there, she would get them topped with cherries (not a common topping these days in a variety of regions). I remember the french fries being served in a type of paper funnel.

    • D.Batey Says:

      I have tried to research some data in a couple of Bronx history books. Amazingly, can’t find any record. You would this the place never existed.

  29. Frank Alcaro Says:

    I worked in Freedomland for time four years it was in existence.
    I worked the stage coach, antique cars and my favorite the tug boat ride. Many many fun memories.

  30. frances rudland Says:

    Yes i lived right up the block from there and hade no money to go even though i was only 10 years old

  31. LonChaney Says:

    Time to let it go, it’s the past and you can’t go back… .

  32. Lilly P Says:

    I remember Freedomland, but I dont remember Funland.

    • D.Batey Says:

      Did you live near Bruckner Blvd near White Plains or along Bruckner near Metcalf Av? If this was a stretch you visited or maybe lived nearby, that is the area where Funland had been located.

  33. CAMILLE Says:

    I remember how excited i was to go to Freedomland. My sister and her boyfriend took me and my friend. we won small lizards when we first got there and thought if we kept blowing air in the bag they would be ok . Unfortunatly we didnt realize we were blowing carbon dioxzide and they died. Well we did come home with an embroided hat with a giant feather in it ! it was and still is great memories and i still remember the jingle for it too.

  34. Alexandra Says:

    My mom and dad met at Freedomland. My dad was running one of the rides where my mom was standing on line. Now they’ve been married 45 years!

  35. Cjkrut Says:

    My first live music event was the Louie Armstrong show at Freedomland. Does anyone remember the year of that show? I was probably 5 or 6, but will never forget seeing Mr. Armstrong.

    • Ed Says:

      Cjkrut, I know how you feel. I don’t remember Louis’ concert, but I was more like 30 years old, and my first – and only – event of any kind at Freedomland was a concert by Stan Kenton. Does anyone remember that concert? I would appreciate any info anyone has on it. I loved Louis too. Good Luck.

    • billy Says:

      Cjkrut, Mr. Louis Armstrong performed at Freedomland on August 28, 1961 for a total of eight days this was right after Duke Ellington performed there with Steve Lawreance & Eydie Gorme and Lena Horne at the same time Mr. Louis Armstrong was in Freedomland the Three Stooges were there also from August 29 till September 4 1961.You can see my three posts in regards to Freedomland one of the Greatest Amusement Parks ever Built.

    • Ed Blaker III Says:

      WOW, I would have LOVED to see that (been to Freedomland a couple of times, hell, I ended up living there as of ’69 (Co-Op City) LOL!). I remember being mesmerized by him & Herb Alpert on TV when I was a kid. So much so, that I started playing trumpet when I hit the 4th grade.

  36. Johnny C. Says:

    Great memories of Freedomland, my favorite was the “Casa Loco” I loved the water running upstream and the weird gravity pull trying to walk through the exhibition. I lived two blocks from the Post Arrow another fun place to visit along with Jahn’s and Krum’s on the Concourse. The Bronx was the greatest place to live for me in the 50’s and 60’s. Now I live in Warwick, NY a great place to live, you can watch the grass grow and the cows graze all day!

  37. Mitch Volkes Says:

    My family went to Freedomland dozens of times I have home movies from there. There were western gun fights and a under taker after named Digger Otoole. We loved it there and living in Queens made it a Short ride. We also went to Palisades Park and adventure land in Queens much smaller. We lived 15 minutes from the Worlds Fair and we’re there all the time. Also went to Kiddie City too.It was a good time to be a kid!

  38. Valerie Says:

    All I remember is: “Mommy and Daddy take my hand, take me out to Freedomland, 2.98 is all it takes at Freedomland today”. (Something like that): Commercial for Freedomland.

  39. Carlos Says:

    I remember FREEDOMLAND,ilived at the edewald projects close by, my dad and mom took us a few times great memories of our nations territories, great family memories, and the Bronx was a very decent place to live in those years, GOD BLESS FREEDOMLAND

  40. Howard Says:

    Me and my sister went there. In my whole lifetime I have run into only one person who had been there and remembered it.

  41. Tyrone Power Says:

    Please post information about Kiddie City… we use to pass it all the time when visiting grandparents. Freedomland was a trip and a half. Helped put out the Chicago fire and rode the train and the steamboat. Thanks, post MORE!!!!!

  42. Ann (Duignan) Signorelli Says:

    In the summer of 1963 I participated in a teenage fashion show every day for about 6 weeks. At the end of the season threre
    was a teen beauty contest in which all the contestants appeared on the Clay Cole Rock and Roll show which was broadcast from Freedomland that week. I was Miss Brooklyn. I have no pictures of that event. Does anyone remember this. Ann

  43. Mike Says:

    Relive Freedomland on Facebook: Freedomland U.S.A. – the World’s Largest Entertainment Center.

  44. Joe Dee Says:

    I remember Funland as I went there on Sundays. It was located on Bruckner Blvd and White Plains Rd. It had a roller coaster and I also remember a batting cage. I also remember Freedomland a little as I was about 10 when it opened.I do remember the Chicago fire and trying to put it out. I always thought that the park closed due to the harsh winters back then. It was basically a seasonal park, unlike Disney, which is all year round.

    • E J Blaker III Says:

      I remember Freedomland too and I was born in ’61. Also, parts of it were left for YEARS (haunted house included) after Co-Op City was build. My friend and I used to sadly wander through the wreckage a lot! I thought part of the reason it closed down was due to inadequate parking and the massive traffic jams in the area off the highway there. Plus, I suspect there may have been some political issues that were address by some as well (who knows?). It probably rubbed Walt the wrong way having one of his former execs experiencing any success. Over the years, I heard that W.D. really wasn’t the nice guy everyone thought him to be.

  45. Carolyn Says:

    Does anyone remember the littlest amusement park of all? Eastchester/Boston Roads. The Bronx !!

  46. Carolyn Says:

    Oops Post Arrow…

  47. Ariele Brooke Says:

    Does anyone remember Buttons and Bows, the wandering clown couple? One person mentioned them on the Freedomland website. They are my grandparents. I am in the process of writing a book about them, as they were not only clowns but vaudevillians. They have an interesting history and I have all their scrapbooks, articles, photos, etc. Some of our fondest memories as kids are going to Freedomland and the World’s Fair (to Belgium Village) to see them. We also followed them to Nathan’s in Long Beach and performed with them on stage there. An amazing childhood with these talented and fun grandparents! Billy, I would love to hear from you to get more information; that is why I was on the Freedomland website and this one. Thanks. Ariele
    arielejohannson@gmail.com

    • Bruce Says:

      I remember all that. Now I am 66 living in so cal for forty years. Five miles from Disneyland and two blocks from knotts berry farm.

  48. Cathy Says:

    Loved that place my dad took me there every Saturday. Never forgot the time I got lost there getting off the merry go round. Lived only less than 2 miles away. Great fun.

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