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A Family's Great-Grandparents Star in a Stranger's Oral History

Last year, Cynthia Nuara of Queens, New York, sent a query to the Coney Island History Project asking if we had photos or information about her great-grandfather John Polise’s bait and tackle store. John's Bait & Tackle operated from the 1940s through 1974. “I believe it was near the old Thunderbolt roller coaster, perhaps where the Cyclones Stadium is now. I would love to find some prints, if they exist somewhere, to give to my mom and aunts,” she wrote. By an amazing coincidence, we recorded an oral history interview in 2011 in which the owners of John's Bait & Tackle play a prominent role.

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Featured Oral History Interviews

Yeva Novik

A 90-year-old Coney Island resident recounts her journey from Moscow to Southern Brooklyn

Boan Lin (Master Lin)

Tai chi master who was born in China shares memories of practicing and teaching his art in Brooklyn

Zohra Saed

Poet and writer from Afghanistan who grew up in Southern Brooklyn

Pamela Pettyjohn

Longtime Coney Island resident and president of Coney Island Beautification Project

Jim Lucarelli

Memories of operating Steeplechase Park's Sports Car ride in 1963-1964 and fighting the Ravenhall fire

Ida Rosenblum Gambrell

Memories of Coney Island in the 1920s and '30s

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

Memories of Coney Island's Mermaid Avenue in the 1950s

New on our YouTube channel: Charles Denson's Mermaid Avenue in the 1950's brings together photos from the Coney Island History Project Collection and the voices of Michael "Looch" Goldstein and Stanley Fox. They grew up at opposite ends of Mermaid Avenue and recorded their memories of the...

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...