Bernarr MacFadden (August 16, 1868 – October 12, 1955) was an American physical culturist, health advocate and publisher.

Physical Culture City

One of MacFadden’s earliest ventures was the ‘Physical Culture City’ In 1905 he leased 1,900 acres near New Brunswick, NJ. He then leased tracts out to people whose alert minds would be sheltered in healthy bodies. Local residents were horrified at the scantily dressed, and sometimes naked or barefoot ‘residents’ of the city, most of whom lived in tents. MacFadden had dreamed of 30,000 settlers but only ever attracted 200.

Physical Culture City was a brief triumph – then a disaster. In 1907 Macfadden was indicted for violating a federal obscenity law with articles in ‘Physical Culture Magazine’. He was sentenced to 2 years hard labour and fined $2,000. In 1909, on appeal, President Taft signed a pardon, but the fine was never removed. With the legal costs and other losses hanging over his head, the ‘great experiment’ was finally abandoned.  

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