October 21st, 2012

Summer is over, but the Coney Island History Project is open for walking tours and school groups in the fall! Take a stroll through the amusement area’s past, present and future with the Coney Island History Project Walking Tour. Our unique walking tours are based on Coney Island 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.

walkingTour

Walking tours are led by historian Charles Denson or poet/teaching artist Amanda Deutch, who have over 100 years of family history in Coney Island. All tours of the amusement area begin with a private visit to the History Project’s expanded 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, wheelchair accessible tour includes a talk on the exhibits and objects on display.

Fall, Winter & Spring Walking Tours: From September 5, 2012 through May 24, 2013, Coney Island History Project Walking Tours are offered on Saturdays and Sundays by advance reservation only. Individuals and groups may also book a private tour on a weekend or weekday. For info on purchasing tickets or questions about scheduling a tour, please email events@coneyislandhistory.org

walkingTour2

Summer Walking Tours: From Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend, when the Coney Island History Project exhibit center is open for the season, tours begin on Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm.

What People Are Saying About Coney Island History Project Tours:

  • “Very cool tour! It was lots of fun and interesting. Thanks & keep up the good work!! Go history!” –Marie Carianna, Astoria, Queens
  • “Thank you very much for this instructive and lively experience!” –Roland Junt, Reningen, Germany
  • “Thoroughly enjoyable– and will recommend.” –Richard and Patti Gillespie, Texas
  • “Great tour with a lot of interesting information and sites. Coney Island is now on the top of my list of places I would like to visit again. Thanks, Amanda.”–Ananda, South Africa (now West Orange, N.J.)
  • “Loved the walking tour with Amanda. Great visit back to my childhood-and more.”–Randy, Roseland, N.J.

For Coney news, conversation, photos and special features like “On this Day in History,” please visit the Coney Island History Project’s Facebook Page and “like” us! Follow us on Twitter for news and views in 140 characters and check out our photos on Flickr.

October 15th, 2012

PLUS Professor Phineas Feelgood’s World of Magic Visits the History Project

On Sunday, October 21st, the Coney Island History Project will be open from 12 noon till 5pm for an autumn get-together celebrating the ongoing exhibit “Coney Island Kids See Coney Island!” Young people who live or go to school in Coney Island and are currently in grades K-12 are invited to be part of this special exhibit featuring their perceptions of their neighborhood. Artwork and poems are featured in a digital slide show and a rotating display of original work at the Coney Island History Project’s free exhibit center. Work is also being shown online via our flickr photo sharing page and Facebook.

alFlosso

Professor Phineas Feelgood

From 2-4pm, our special guest Bob Yorburg aka Professor Phineas Feelgood will perform Coney Island style magic. He will also bring along Punch and Judy puppets from his collection that belonged to Al Flosso aka The Coney Island Fakir. These puppets were used by Al in the early 1900′s while he performed magic and Punch shows. Bob will also bring promotional materials used by Al Flosso in the 1910′s. His fascination with turn-of-the-19th-century Coney Island, magic and the amusement arts began when he was a child. Since then he has been performing magic and a flea circus and carving amusement items reflecting old-time Coney Island.

GUIDELINES FOR SUBMITTING ARTWORK:

kidsArt1
  1. Send a scan or photo of the work as a jpeg via email to coneyislandhistory@gmail.com
  2. Mail original work up to 11 x 17″ to Coney Island History Project, c/o Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, 3059 West 12th St, Brooklyn NY 11224
  3. Bring work to the Coney Island History Project during exhibit center hours.

There is no fee to enter the show. Include the artist’s name, age, zip code and school. Photos of people requiring a release are not eligible.

The project is supported by a JPMorgan Chase Foundation Grant by the Brooklyn Arts Council. The JPMorgan Chase grants support Brooklyn-based arts organizations whose primary mission is to provide arts and cultural activities open to the general public.

kidsArtSponsors

This organization has received funding from the 2012 JPMorgan Chase Regrant Program, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council, Inc. (BAC).

October 15th, 2012

Pick up a Copy of Coney Island CreekWalk and Take a Self-Guided Tour

creekMarkers

Join us on Saturday, October 20th, for the Beneath the Sea Waterfront Celebration and Coastal Clean Up from 10am. The free event in Coney Island’s Kaiser Park includes an array of activities: scuba diving and hard-hat diving, marine education exhibits and demonstrations, robots that go underwater, arts and crafts such as pumpkin painting and making bird feeders, music and entertainment, and a waterfront walking tour.

creekWalk

Stop by the Coney Island History Project’s table for a free copy of the walking tour brochure “Coney Island CreekWalk at Kaiser Park” and take a self-guided tour. The signs along the waterfront and the brochure were created by Charles Denson and produced by the Coney Island History Project with funding from a Partnership for Parks Catalyst Grant. The popular brochure is in its second printing and will also be available at the History Project exhibit center during October’s special events.

The CreekWalk at Kaiser Park is a starting point for experiencing the creek’s ecology and history, including the fishing pier, ship graveyard (including the wreck of the Yellow Submarine), wildlife, sand dunes, and other points of interest.

Special guests at the October 20th event at Kaiser Park include Gene Ritter of Cultural Research Divers, discoverer of the Dreamland Bell; Bill Evans, author, diver and WABC-TV weatherman; and Rod Roddenberry, founder of the Roddenberry Dive Team and producer of Trek Nation.

October 11th, 2012

John Farrell as “Walt Whitman: Time Traveler”
Visits the History Project!

John Farrell as Walt Whitman: Time Traveler

The Coney Island History Project will be open special hours from 1-5pm on October 13th and 14th in conjunction with Parachute: the Coney Island Performance Festival. Poet, actor and Whitmaniac John Farrell will be reciting Walt Whitman at the History Project on Sunday, October 14, from 2-4pm. Admission is free of charge.

Mr. Farrell’s one-man show “Walt Whitman: Time Traveler” premiered last year in Ireland. In New York, he has performed as Whitman at the Brooklyn Book Festival, NYC Poetry Festival and Dixon Place. “Walt Whitman, an American poetry icon, was a frequent visitor of Coney’s shores in the 1800′s,” says Parachute Festival director Amanda Deutch, who notes that Whitman ran along Coney Island’s coast shouting Homer and Shakespeare to the Atlantic surf. The limited edition broadside of Whitman’s words on Coney Island pictured above will be for sale at the festival.

parachute

Parachute: the Coney Island Performance Festival will feature two evenings of literary readings and two afternoons of poetry workshops. Visit the festival website for details and to make reservations for these free events. The main stage is located in the NY Aquarium’s Alien Stingers Exhibit, in front of the Jellyfish. Doors will open at 6:30 and readings will begin at 7pm both nights. A wide array of established and up-and coming Brooklyn based poets and writers will be presented.

Highlights include Brooklyn Poet Laureate Tina Chang; Martin Espada, called the “Latino poet of his generation”; Joanna Fuhrman, author of Freud in Brooklyn; Sheila Maldonado, Coney Island native and author of One-Bedroom Solo; and a sound installation of a poem by Vito Acconci. Charles Denson, author of Coney Island: Lost and Found, will read a 19th century poem about Coney Island. In addition to the main stage reading events, there will also be surprise site-specific poetry happenings around Coney Island, which will be announced on the festival’s website.

cihp

The Coney Island History Project exhibit center will be open on both Saturday and Sunday afternoon for this special event. View historic artifacts, photographs, maps, ephemera and films of Coney Island’s colorful past. Exhibits on view include Abe Feinstein: 50 Years of Coney Island Photography, Inside the Shore Theater: Photographs by Charles Denson and Coney Island Bathhouses: A Lost Culture. In the fall, the exhibit center is open for Coney Island History Project Walking Tours, group visits and special events.

The exhibit center is located at 3059 West 12th Street at the entrance to Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, which is open Saturdays and Sundays from 12 noon through October. The weekend of the performance festival also happens to be the last chance to ride the iconic Wonder Wheel in 2012! The cars will be coming off next week as the 92-year-old Coney Island landmark begins its annual maintenance schedule.

September 27th, 2012

dropTheDip

Last week, the City’s Economic Development Corporation issued a Request for Proposals to develop and operate amusements on a long vacant lot at West 15th Street in Coney Island. The Coney Island History Project has received several queries about the history of the site. The narrow city-owned lot up for bid was formerly owned by the Tilyou family since the 1880s and has a long amusement history. When West 15th Street was cut through from Surf Avenue to the Boardwalk in 1922 it replaced the narrow Bushman’s Walk and forced the relocation of the Drop the Dip roller coaster which overlapped the bed of the street. Irving Baths bathhouse was located on the Boardwalk end of the new street and a Mangels Whip ride sat at the Bowery end. Between the Bowery and Surf was Morgan’s Cabaret, replaced in the 1950s by the Magic Carpet Fun House, Donkey Ball Game, and Shatzkins Knishes. The Whip ride was later replaced by numerous McCullough attractions and then a Wild Mouse Coaster and Go-Kart track, both of which closed and sat abandoned until the early 1980s. The lot was later let go for back taxes, became city property, and was cleared of decaying rides. The late Andy Badalamenti built a corral at the Surf Avenue end of the property for the use of Police horses assigned to patrol Coney Island. In recent times, the property has reverted to a natural state providing a green, park-like environment from Surf Avenue to the Boardwalk. The site is adjacent to the privately owned property where the Thunderbolt Roller Coaster stood until its demolition in 2000.

-Charles Denson


wild

August 10th, 2012

July 9, 2013: Our 3rd ANNUAL HISTORY DAY WILL BE HELD SATURDAY, AUGUST 10, 2013 (rain date AUGUST 11,2013) VISIT THE CONEY ISLAND HISTORY PROJECT ON FACEBOOK OR TWITTER FOR ADDITIONAL INFO ON THE 2013 EVENT OR EMAIL events[AT]coneyislandhistory[DOT]org.

History Day has been rescheduled! See you on sunny SUNDAY, AUGUST 12, 2012 (instead of Saturday, August 11). Same bands, same events, same time and place: Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and the Coney Island History Project from 1pm-6pm. Coney Trivia Contest with Charles Denson at 2pm and again at 3pm under the Wonder Wheel.

Although the 2012 History Day is rescheduled for Sunday, the Coney Island History Project exhibit center will be OPEN RAIN OR SHINE on SATURDAY with a new exhibit on the cultural history of Coney Island bathhouses. Open Saturday & Sunday, 12-6pm. FREE!

historyDay

August 10th, 2012

Wards Baths - copyright Charles Denson

A new exhibit on the cultural history of Coney Island’s bathhouses and the art of bathhouse tags will open on August 11 as part of our “History Day” celebration and will be on view through September 3rd.

Bathhouse tags There were once more than 50 bathhouses of all kinds lining the beach at Coney Island. A century ago bathhouses provided the only access to the beach and, for many, a home away from home. Now hardly anyone knows what a bathhouse is. The shorefront facilities were a popular cultural phenomenon, providing entertainment, lockers, changing rooms, showers, swim suit rentals, steam baths, massive salt water pools, athletic equipment, game courts, restaurants, and fenced wooden decks for nude sunbathing. This exhibit provides a history told in photographs, admission tickets, oral history, and the folk art of bathhouse key tags.

The Coney Island History Project is open Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 12 noon – 6pm through Labor Day. Admission is free of charge. Our exhibit center is located at 3059 West 12th Street at the entrance to Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, just a few steps off the Boardwalk.

bathhouse tag

Coney Island History Project The exhibition center is also open by appointment for schools and groups and for special events. It is the starting point for the Coney Island History Project’s popular walking tours of the amusement area. The 1-1/2 hour walking tours are led by historian Charles Denson or poet/teaching artist Amanda Deutch, who have over 100 years of family history in Coney Island! 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, e-mail events@coneyislandhistory.org.

August 10th, 2012

Coney Island’s Shore Theater, a short film by Charles Denson featuring his never-before-seen photos of the building’s ornate interior debuted a few days ago on Mr Denson’s “Coneyologist” channel on YouTube. At the same time, the exhibit “Inside the Shore Theater: Photographs by Charles Denson” is on view at the Coney Island History Project through September 3rd. The exhibit center is open to the public on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 12 noon – 6pm. Admission is free of charge.

Shore Theater Coney Island History Project “The Shore Theater represents not just Coney’s golden past, but also its bright future,” Mr Denson said last summer, when the landmark was inducted into the Coney Island Hall of Fame. The seven-story, neo-Renaissance style theater and vaudeville house and adjacent 14-story office building at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues opened in 1925 and operated for half a century. Both structures have been closed and sealed up for decades. The theater’s facade was granted landmark status in 2010, but the interior is not protected and vulnerable to demolition. The images in the film and the exhibition provide a rare glimpse of a Coney Island treasure.

Loew’s Mermaid Photo by Charles Denson Mr Denson is one of the few people who has seen the inside of the Shore Theater in recent years. “The interior of the Shore (formerly the Loew’s Coney Island) is a visual delight, a treasure trove of complex architectural details that ranks it among the finest of New York’s surviving movie palaces,” he said. “Below the theater’s massive 150-foot dome are frescoed walls and vaulted ceilings covered with decorative nautical-themed plasterwork motifs featuring scallop shells, crabs, and squid medallions as well as wind-blown sailing ships with full sails and fluttering flags, breezing across a border of crashing waves. The mezzanine’s colorful half dome ceiling is supported by a curving row of Ionic columns crowned with rows of beautiful dancing mermaids set into decorative diamonds.”

“Local elected officials and the City’s EDC have expressed an interest in buying and restoring the theater, but as time passes the fate of the structure’s unique interior, which is not landmarked, becomes more uncertain every day. This architectural treasure must be preserved.”

August 10th, 2012

Children's call for entries

This season the Coney Island History Project is presenting “Coney Island Kids See Coney Island! Art, Photography and Poetry.” Young people who live or go to school in Coney Island and are currently in grades K-12 are invited to be part of a special exhibit featuring their perceptions of their neighborhood. Artwork, photos, and short poems are featured in a digital slide show and a rotating display of original work at the Coney Island History Project’s free exhibit center. Work will also be shown online via CIHP’s flickr photo sharing page and Facebook.

Artists and their families will be invited to a special event at the Coney Island History Project in the fall to celebrate the exhibit and will receive a limited edition souvenir badge.

GUIDELINES

  1. Send a scan or photo of your work as a jpeg via email to coneyislandhistory@gmail.com
  2. Mail original work up to 11 x 17″ to Coney Island History Project, c/ Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, 3059 West 12th St, Brooklyn NY 11224
  3. Bring work to the Coney Island History Project during exhibit center hours. We’re open Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 12 noon – 6pm through Labor Day.

There is no fee to enter the show. Include the artist’s name, age, zip code and school. Photos of people requiring a release are not eligible.

The project is supported by a JPMorgan Chase Foundation Grant by the Brooklyn Arts Council. The JPMorgan Chase grants support Brooklyn-based arts organizations whose primary mission is to provide arts and cultural activities open to the general public.

kidsArtSponsors

This organization has received funding from the 2012 JPMorgan Chase Regrant Program, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council, Inc. (BAC).

July 24th, 2012

historyDay2012

Celebrate historic Coney Island and enjoy live music, entertainment and history on Saturday, August 11, 2012, from 1pm – 6pm at the 2nd Annual History Day at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and the Coney Island History Project.

History Day festivities include live music by New York City’s legendary Hungry March Band, Ragtime and Dixieland by the Banjo Rascals, and Benjamin Ickies and the Coney Island Screamers, who attack Golden Age Circus Music with a rock ‘n’ roll attitude. Plus the always amazing Lady Circus! The performances are free to the public and will be held at the Wonder Wheel, the Coney Island History Project and throughout Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park.

On History Day, visitors can test their Coney Island smarts at the Coney Island Trivia Contest with historian and author Charles Denson. Prizes include ride passes for Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and souvenir postcards from the Coney Island History Project. If you have a Coney Island story to share, come and record your memories for the History Project’s Oral History Archive. You may also schedule an in-person interview by emailing info@coneyislandhistory.org.

bathhouse

A new exhibit on the cultural history of Coney Island’s bathhouses and the art of bathhouse key tags will open on History Day at the Coney Island History Project. There were once more than 50 bathhouses of all kinds lining the beach at Coney Island. A century ago bathhouses provided the only access to the beach and, for many, a home away from home. Now hardly anyone knows what a bathhouse is. The shorefront facilities were a popular cultural phenomenon, providing entertainment, lockers, changing rooms, showers, swim suit rentals, steam baths, massive salt water pools, athletic equipment, game courts, restaurants, and fenced wooden decks for nude sunbathing. This exhibit provides a history told in photographs, admission tickets, oral history, and the folk art of bathhouse key tags.

Additional free events on History Day include Deno’s Draw-a-thon, where adults and children are invited to draw a picture of the landmark Wonder Wheel, which will be part of an online photo exhibit. Crayons and paper will be provided. Visitors who dress in 1920′s garb get one free ride on the landmark Wonder Wheel, which first opened in 1920. Visitors are also invited to take their photos with old-timey cutouts at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and the Coney Island History Project’s Steeplechase horse from the legendary ride that gave Steeplechase Park its name.

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NOTE: All material on the CIHP web site is copyrighted and cannot be used without permission.