Charles Denson

Charles Denson 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 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. In 2013 the New York State Marine Education Association presented the Herman Melville Award to Mr. Denson for his environmental advocacy on behalf of Coney Island Creek.

Interviews

Memories of growing up in Coney Island Houses and on Mermaid Avenue in the 1950s and '60s
Musician Andy Fuhrman grew up in Coney Island Houses and on Mermaid Avenue and remembers every store in the neighborhood. Andy was on the football team at Lincoln High School in the 1960s, worked games on the Bowery, and was a pioneering surfer at...
Sea Gate resident on her girlhood memories of Coney Island and passing them on to her daughter
Currently a resident of Sea Gate, Irene Karas was born in Belgium and grew up in Bensonhurst and on Ocean Parkway. She recalls excursions to Coney Island beach with her family.  As a young girl, Irene would "roam all of the nooks and crannies of...
Memories of growing up on Mermaid Avenue and working games in Coney Island from age twelve
Michael Goldstein,  known as "Looch," worked games in Coney Island for over half a century. He started out in 1954 at age twelve, earning 75 cents an hour, and by his fourth year was a partner in the game. "It was a different era, a different...
Owner of Peluso Machine and Iron Works
John Rea owned and operated Peluso Machine and Iron Works in Coney Island. From 1947 until his retirement, he repaired or worked on nearly every famous ride in Coney Island. He was on call 24 hours a day and could build any part for any ride, an...
Daughter of Gargiulo's founder was born in an apartment above Coney Island's famous restaurant
Josephine “Chickie” Cassata is the daughter of the late Louis Gargiulo, founder of Coney Island’s famous Gargiulo's Restaurant on West 15th Street. Chickie was born in an apartment above the restaurant in 1929 and grew up working at the...
On growing up in Coney Island and founding the nonprofit Urban Neighborhood Services
Mathylde Frontus grew up in Coney Island as the eldest child of Haitian immigrant parents who instilled a love of learning and community service. In 2004, she founded Urban Neighborhood Services (UNS), a small multi-service agency on Mermaid Avenue...
Daughter of Coney Island artist, banner painter and Cyclops creator Dan Casola
Patricia Casola shares memories of growing up in Coney Island in the 1950s and '60s as the daughter of artist Dan Casola (1902-1990). She recalls her father as a "tinkerer" and "a self-taught individual" who learned by doing.  Among his clients were...
Son of Coney Island artist, banner painter and Cyclops creator Dan Casola
Wesley Casola shares memories of growing up in Coney Island in the 1950s and '60s. The son of artist Dan Casola (1902-1990), he recalls his father building the Spook-A-Rama Cyclops in their yard and making figures for The World in Wax Musee. His...
Clothing company CEO George Rudes grew up in the shadow of the Half Moon Hotel
George Rudes lived in Coney Island from 1930 until 1948 when he went off to college. He lived next door to the Half Moon Hotel on West 29th Street. His father, Leo Isaac Rudes, was president of the synagogues on Mermaid Avenue and the one on West...
Co-owner and operator of Gregory & Paul's for more than 50 years
Gregory Bitetzakis and his partner, Paul Georgoulakos, have operated a half dozen restaurants in Coney Island for more than half a century. Although they are best known for their two stands on West 8th Street at Surf Avenue and on the Boardwalk,...