Coney Island History Project Oral History Archive

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Share your memories of Coney Island and Southern Brooklyn!

Share and preserve your memories by recording an oral history with the Coney Island History Project. We are recording audio interviews in English, Russian, Chinese, Spanish and other languages with people who live or work - past or present - in Coney Island and adjacent Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods or have a special connection to the place. For inspiration, listen to some of the...

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Featured Oral History Interviews

Sheila Levrant de Bretteville

Memories of growing up a block from the ocean and being head of Lincoln High School's Art Squad

Theresa Giovinni

Coney Island resident who moved here as a high school student talks about her neighborhood

Levent Demirgil

Turkish store owner returns to Coney Island as restaurateur three years after Hurricane Sandy

Michael Goldstein (Looch)

Memories of growing up on Mermaid Avenue and working games in Coney Island from age twelve

Steve Spak

Photographer who worked on a city ambulance for Coney Island Hospital in the late 1970's

Kai Fung

Homeowner in Coney Island's West End for almost 30 years and first member of his family to settle here

Hall of Fame

Inventors, performers, impresarios, and community leaders - these are among the many pioneers and visionaries whose creativity and ingenuity helped shape and define Coney Island over the past century. Each year, the Coney Island Hall of Fame pays tribute to a selected group of honorees. Their contributions are highlighted in an exhibit of colorful banners accompanied by illustrated text panels detailing their fascinating lives.

Featured Video

Coney Island Creek: A Kayak Tour

  Coney Island Creek is the last remnant of a vast and vibrant salt marsh estuary that once covered nearly 3,000 acres between the sand dunes of Coney Island and the glacial plain of what is now Southern Brooklyn. The waterway became Coney Island’s earliest attraction as the island’s...

Ask Mr. Coney Island

Dear Mr. Coney Island...
I've been doing a search to find images, pictures and films/video and audio showing the incredible Classic Three Rotating Ring Carousel that I remembered, as a young boy, that was housed in the huge indoor Steeplechase Park. As a young boy in the 1950's I had been amazed at the mechanical complexity of such an amazing machine with its 'Three Counter Rotating Ride Rings', Beautifully Hand Carved and Lovingly Painted Motion and Still Horses, and the Powerful music that came from the Huge Mechanical Full Orchestra and Organ/Calliope. I was born and raised in Brooklyn and Coney Island was a regular venue for our family entertainment. I'm hoping you'll be the one to help restore this childhood amazement to me! Regards, namaste
- David

Hello David,

That would be the El Dorado Carousel, now located at Toshimaen Amusement Park in Tokyo. This magnificent machine was carved by Hugo Hasse of Leipzig Germany in 1902. In 1910 it was moved to Coney Island and installed in a building Surf Avenue at West Fifth Street. The carousel survived the 1911 Dreamland Fire, blistered but intact. George Tilyou brought the El Dorado to...

Walking Tours

Coney Island Tours 

"A fascinating, accurate, unexpurgated look at the World's Playground"

Eventbrite - Coney Island History Project Walking Tour - September-October 2014

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.

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.