Take a stroll through Coney Island's amusement district--past, present and future--with the Coney Island History Project. Our unique walking tours are based on History Project Director Charles Denson's award-winning book "Coney Island: Lost and Found,"
the interviews from CIHP's Oral History Archive
, and other primary sources.
Please visit our online reservation website
to see the walking tour schedule and purchase advance tickets online. If you have a question or to arrange a group tour, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Walking tours are led by History Project staff including historian Charles Denson or poet/teaching artist Amanda Deutch, who have over 100 years of family history in Coney Island! All tours begin with a private visit to the History Project's exhibition center
under the Wonder Wheel's iconic entrance sign on Denos D. Vourderis Place (West 12th Street), just a few steps off the Boardwalk. The 1-1/2 hour tour includes a talk on the exhibits and objects on display.
Coney Island History Project Walking tours are offered year-round on Saturdays and Sundays. Through the end of October, Coney Island History Project Walking Tours are offered at 2:00 pm. From November though May 17, tours start an hour earlier, at 1:00pm. A tour is confirmed when we have a minimum of 3 reservations. Advance purchase of tickets through our event reservation website
is required since tours are limited to approx. 12 people.
If a tour is confirmed and has not sold out online, the remaining tickets will be available for cash purchase on the day of the tour when the History Project opens at 12 noon (from May 23-September 6, 2015) or prior to the tour (spring, winter and fall).
Throughout the year, individuals and groups may schedule a private visit to the History Project exhibit center and walking tour on a weekend or weekday.
is executive director of the nonprofit Coney Island History Project, which has created an oral history archive and sponsors educational exhibits, school programs and performances. He is the author of "Wild Ride: A Coney Island Roller Coaster Family," "Coney Island and Astroland," and "Coney Island: Lost and Found," named 2002 New York Book of the Year
by the New York Society Library. Mr. Denson grew up in Coney Island and began documenting his neighborhood as a boy, a passion that continues to this day. A writer, photographer and art director, he began his career in 1971 as a photographer for New York magazine and has since worked as art director for numerous publications. In 1999 he was awarded a Chronicle journalism fellowship at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.
is a native New Yorker, whose mother and grandparents lived in Coney Island. She has worked with the Coney Island History Project for five years and is also a teaching artist and poet. Her poetry is published in dozens of literary journals and her poem "30,000 City Windows" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In 2009, she founded the Parachute Festival
in Coney Island, a two day literary festival that took place in the New York Aquarium's Alien Stingers exhibit. Her passions include impressing bystanders with her Skee-Ball skills and riding the Wonder Wheel.
History Puzzler for Kids
Can you find these 10 historic places in Coney Island? Here are some clues—in words and pictures—to guide you! Stop by the Coney Island History Project and pick up a copy of our new History Puzzler or download it as a pdf here
. It's an "edutaining" activity for children & parents to enjoy together. Our free exhibit center is open from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor day, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays 12-6pm. You'll find us at 3059 W 12 St, at entrance to Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, just off the Boardwalk.
Highlighting historic landmarks and sites endangered by redevelopment, these first-ever Audio Walking Tours of Coney Island make the People's Playground accessible to visitors and armchair travelers 365 days a year and provide valuable perspective on the historic and cultural importance of a world-famous neighborhood on the cusp of redevelopment. Archival and contemporary photos, historical facts, anecdotes, and guided observation are used to explore Coney's past and present as well as its future possibilities.
You may download the tours for free from this page. The tour script is written and narrated by Charles Denson, CIHP Executive Director, Coney Island native and author of the award-winning book "Coney Island Lost & Found" (http://www.nysoclib.org/awards/coney.html
) and "Wild Ride: A Coney Island Roller Coaster Family"
Amusement Area: Past & Present
The first audio tour covers the Amusement Area: Past & Present. Highlights include Coney Island's four New York City landmarks: the 1920 Wonder Wheel and 1927 Cyclone Roller Coaster, which are operating rides; the 1939 Parachute Jump, refurbished by the city and celebrated as "Brooklyn's Eiffel Tower"; and the 1924 Childs Restaurant building on the Boardwalk, which is currently Lola Staar's Dreamland Roller Rink. Sites endangered by change of ownership and redevelopment plans are another component of the tour. These sites include the Grasshorn Building (Coney's oldest, circa 1888); the 1925 Shore Theatre; Ruby's Bar and other vernacular architecture and signage along the Boardwalk, Bowery and Jones Walk.
The tours contribute to preservation of an authentic sense of place by telling the stories of Coney's landmarks as well as its endangered sites. For example, the former Grasshorn Hardware Store (Coney's oldest building) and Henderson Vaudeville Theatre (where Harpo Marx made his stage debut in 1908) are considered ineligible for landmarking because they have been altered too significantly. The process of landmarking the Shore Theater is expected to begin soon. CIHP's Audio Walking Tour will help keep these endangered sites in the public eye while there is still hope to save them.
The Coney Island History Project's audio tour program is funded in part by the New York City Department of
Cultural Affairs, NYC Councilman Domenic Recchia, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, New York State
Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, State Assemblyman Alec Brook Krasny, and the Johanna
Favrot Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.