Freedomland U.S.A.

Do You Remember The Freedomland U.S.A. Theme Park!

Just when I thought I discovered all there is about pop culture history, a bit of information comes my way that I have to share. FREEDOMLAND U.S.A.! I have to shout, because this is something awesome, spectacular actually.

Cornelius Vanderbilt Wood wanted to make a theme park in the north east of the United States to rival that of west coast’s Disneyland. Oddly enough, he had a hand in the creation of Disneyland. He was hired by Walt Disney and is responsible for finding the site to build Disney’s theme park. A few years later, Wood split from Disney and founded Marco Engineering. He would go on to help create Magic Mountain, Pleasure Island and the big one, Freedomland U.S.A..

Freedomland U.S.A.

(Magic Mountain was a theme park Wood opened in 1958)

Wood’s idea was a theme park based on different eras & locations in United States history. He acquired about 200 acres of land in Bronx, New York. The land used to be a landfill which goes to show that cool things can come from garbage.. On a side note, Wood designed the shape of the park itself to look like the United States, without Alaska and Hawaii. On June 19th, 1960, Freedomland U.S.A. was opened for business.
Freedomland U.S.A.

The park featured seven areas of attraction. 1) Little Old New York set in the late 1800’s which had a horse-pulled trolley, a recreation of Macy’s first department store, a brewery sponsored by Schaefer, and a deli. There was 2) The Great Plains set in the 19th century with a replica of an Army stockade known as Fort Cavalry, an apartment sponsored by Borden featuring Elsie the Cow, a merry-go-round powered by mules, the Pony Express which was a ride that took you to the next area of the park, 3) The Old Southwest. There’s a recreation of a gun fight, a Mexican restaurant, an underground train ride through mines, and a herd of cows with a cowboy. Another part of the park was dedicated to 4) Chicago in the year 1871. That year is significant because of the Great Chicago Fire which is featured in this area. Guests and actors help put out a fire using 19th century equipment.
Freedomland U.S.A.

5) San Francisco in the early 1900’s featured a Chinatown, several places to eat, a simulation of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and a boat ride. There was a 6) New Orleans section of the park which allowed the visitor to go through Civil War battle grounds, a pirate-themed boat ride, a maze where the walls are mirrors, a bunch of rides one of which was through a simulated tornado. The seventh area was called Satellite Future. The focus here is on space and science from a rocket control room like what you would see at NASA, a moving sidewalk, a simulated rocket flight, and something called Moon Bowl which was a stage that many performers did their thing. Who? How about Bobby Darin!? And Bobby Rydell, the Everly Brothers, Brenda Lee and Patti Page. Whoa!
Freedomland U.S.A.

So what happened to Freedomland U.S.A.? It was simply not making a profit. Every year it was losing more money than it was making. I’m no expert, but I’m guessing that being it was a theme park in the northern part of the United States, it was a seasonal attraction. Unlike Disneyland which is in sunny California, Freedomland was only open from May to October. That’s six months of without revenue. Sadly, it stayed in business for only five seasons and in 1964 shut down.
Freedomland U.S.A.

When I hear stories about places going out of business I always ask, what happened to all the stuff. Much of it was simply destroyed, some rides were sold off to other parks, but there’s something from Freedomland U.S.A. that is still in one piece today; The Canadian which was the steamboat used in the park. According to a 2008 article in the New York Post, it’s docked in Port Chester, New York. It’s also been modernized, so while the shape remains the same, the exterior has a more modern look and it is now called The Showboat.
Freedomland U.S.A.

Check out the videos below to see what how fun Freedomland U.S.A. was to the visitors of the park.

[Via] All Classic Video

[Via] Hugo Faces

Sweethaven

1980’s Sweethaven from Popeye Is A Malta Tourist Attraction?!

I was taking a break from a Retroist video podcast that I’m working on to view some random videos on YouTube. Then I came across a video about abandoned movie sets.

[Via] Yesterworld Entertainment

In 1980, a film adaptation of the cartoon Popeye hit the theaters. It got mixed reviews from the critics, but many people, myself included, fell in love with the film. One of the interesting things about this movie was the setting; an old fishing village in Malta called Sweethaven (though the movie doesn’t say it is in Malta). Most of the film’s budget went to the construction of this unique set. Like most movie sets, Sweethaven was slated to be destroyed after filming ended. In fact, the prime minister of Malta, at the time, wanted it destroyed. Members of Malta film community convinced him to keep Sweethaven for tourism purposes. I know what you’re thinking…Popeye film set as a tourist attraction? I wrote a post a while back about this film & the character and worried that both were going to be forgotten, but I may have been wrong.

Sweethaven

Map courtesy of Bing Maps

Sweethaven

Aerial shot courtesy of Google Maps

Popeye’s movie set has become a theme park! People have weddings here! Simply put, the place is gorgeous. There are people running around in costumes as well. I don’t want to spoil it here so go on to the Popeye Village website to see the amazing photos and packages they have. I have got to convince my wife to take a trip there.
Sweethaven

Voyagers! - Video Podcast

Learn all about the TV show “Voyagers!” on the Retroist Video Podcast

Welcome to the Retroist “Voyagers” VIDEO podcast. On this episode of the show, I talk about cult time travel TV classic, Voyagers! I start off talking about my love of history in books and why this TV show was perfect for me (and my grandmother).

I then talk about the people behind the camera, the tragic death of one of its stars, the plot, the music, the show’s untimely cancellation and much much more. If you want to learn more about Voyagers! Take a trip down to your public library. Remember its all in books!

This video podcast was done by Justin M. Salvato of boxing4free.com and is a video-ized version of the original Voyagers! podcast I did.

Enjoy!

Not a video fan? Listen to the original audio episode.

Check out the Retroist Video Podcast Archive: http://www.retroist.com/category/retroist-video-podcast/
Voyagers!

Video Game Stars – Gametoids are the new Factoids

A new channel has popped up on YouTube. It’s called Video Game Stars and it is put together by Emmy Award-winning producer TJ Allard. The channel produces one minute long videos about the history of video games and computing. These short videos are called “Gametoids” which is a play on the word Factoids. A new episode will be uploaded every Tuesday and as of today, April 5th, 2017, there are two videos. Check them out then subscribe to the channel so you’ll be alerted when a new video arrives.

The first is about the person who brought the first video game into space and of course the game!

The second is about beer, arcades and kids.

Game Stars

The Rainbow 100 Computer was Dreamy!

I grew up in Queens Village, New York and I always went with my parents to Jamaica Savings Bank (now Capital One). This bank was interesting for several reasons; the lighting was warm because most of it came from their huge windows, the tellers were separated from the public with very thick bullet proof glass, and the most importantly, their computers.
Rainbow 100
That’s me on the side of Jamaica Savings Bank in September of 1989.

There were a few desks and on each was a DEC Rainbow 100 computer. Which consisted of a monitor and keyboard. I didn’t realize until years later that there was a console attached because it was always out of sight. Under the desk perhaps?
Rainbow 100
I loved the shape of the monitor – the angle at which you looked at it mesmerized me every time I walked into the bank. My curiosity would always get the best of me and I found myself drifting over to a desk that no one was working at. I would stare at the set-up, dreaming of having a Rainbow 100 for myself. Now that I collect computers, I think it’s just a matter of time before I get one in my collection.

If that computer looks familiar, there’s a good reason for it; it was in a lot of movies. Beverly Hills Cop, The Philadelphia Experiment, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension and Ghostbusters.

The set up here is almost exactly what I saw in the bank minus the printer & console.

If you’re wondering about that wacky looking disk drive, well, this video will explain.

[Via] CelGenStudios

If you want to learn about the DEC Rainbow 100 computer, try here: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/computinghistory/rainbow.html