2000 - 2009

Granddaughter of Anthony "Totonno" Pero tells the story of how he founded Totonno's Pizzeria in 1924
Antoinette Balzano is the granddaughter of Totonno's founder, Anthony Pero. At Totonno’s Pizzeria Napolitana on Neptune Avenue in Coney Island, pizzas have been made in the same way in the same spot since 1924. Anthony (Totonno) Pero, emigrated from...
Content type: Oral History Item
Founder of Cultural Research Divers shares his knowledge of oceans, estuaries, and Coney Island Creek
Gene Ritter is a Coney Island native, environmental advocate, commercial diver and educator. He grew up on West 16th Street near Coney Island Creek and got certified as a diver as a 14-year-old. Gene is the founder and president of Cultural Research...
Content type: Oral History Item
Coney Island carny kid and water race game operator on the Bowery
Candi Rafael, whose family operates games on Coney Island's Bowery, grew up here and started helping out as an eight-year-old. Now 22, she says "I have to say it's made me stronger." She says working here has taught her the value of hard work as...
Content type: Oral History Item
Founder and director of Brighton Ballet Theater, now celebrating its 30th year
Coney Island resident Irina Roizin emigrated from Ukraine in 1976 and realized her childhood dream of founding a ballet school, Brighton Ballet Theater, in 1987. Roizin recounts first impressions of Brighton Beach and Coney, the challenges of...
Content type: Oral History Item
Coney Island resident for 43 years, community gardener and musician
Santos Torres has lived in Coney Island for 43 years, tends the Santos White Community Garden, and plays music on the Boardwalk during the summer.  Located on Mermaid Avenue, the garden was founded in 1995 and is part of the City's GreenThumb...
Content type: Oral History Item
Memories of Coney Island in the 1930s and '40s and growing up in Brooklyn in an Italian family
Commendatore Aldo Mancusi, the founder of the Enrico Caruso Museum of America, brings his Hofbauer street organ from the museum to our annual Coney Island History Day celebrations. Born in 1929, Mancusi shares his memories of coming to Coney Island...
Content type: Oral History Item
Founder and principal of Coney Island's Liberation Diploma Plus High School
April Leong is the award-winning founder and principal of Coney Island's Liberation Diploma Plus High School. The small alternative high school on West 19th Street serves 200 transfer students, many of whom describe it as their home or family. They...
Content type: Oral History Item
Coney Island handball champions Albert Apuzzi and Dori Ten on the mecca of handball
Husband and wife Albert Apuzzi and Dori Ten are one-wall handball champions who have long played at Coney Island's famed Seaside Courts, known as the mecca of handball. Apuzzi tells how he started playing handball in kindergarten when the game was...
Content type: Oral History Item
UK illustrator based in Australia who created her own summer-long artist residency in Coney Island
In summer 2014, Australia-based illustrator  and artist Sarah Beetson created her own three month long artist residency in Coney Island, which she calls her "favorite place of inspiration." Beetson recounts short visits here -- the first was in 2002...
Content type: Oral History Item
New York Bread co-owner talks about baking 30 different kinds of Russian bread in Coney Island
Viktor Vassiliev is the co-owner with Gennadiy Verebeychik of New York Bread on Neptune Avenue in Coney Island. Founded 17 years ago, the bakery produces and sells 30 different kinds of European and Russian-style bread and ships its products to 35...
Content type: Oral History Item