16. Freedomland U.S.A. (1960-1964)
Freedomland U.S.A. was a short-lived yet very well-known theme park in the Baychester section of the Bronx. The park’s layout was designed by C.V. Wood and consisted of over 40 attractions in the shape of the contiguous United States. The park cost an astronomical $65 million to build, and one year after it opened in 1960, the park remained $8 million in debt. Freedomland was only 85% complete at the time of opening, yet despite this admission was $1.50 for adults, with an additional surcharge of up to 50 cents for some rides.
The park featured a number of sections inspired by different geographic regions of the United States, with corresponding rides, restaurants, and interactive activities. Little Old New York, inspired by life in the late 19th century, featured a Horseless Carriage, Shuntz’s Delicatessen, and New York Harbor tug boats. Old Chicago featured elements like an Indian Village and a building that would “burn” with flames extinguished by character actors, while The Great Plains included a version of the Pony Express, a working farm, and a shooting gallery. Other regions included San Francisco, The Old Southwest, Mardi Gras-themed New Orleans, and Satellite City.
Photo courtesy of Thomas X. Casey
Despite the park’s appeal, Freedomland faced further financial strain by 1963, and a portion of the park was sold to a pension fund of the Teamsters Union. The park filed for bankruptcy on September 14, 1964, and today the site was redeveloped as Co-op City, the largest housing cooperative in the world.
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