Coney Island History Project Oral History Archive

WHAT'S NEW

Closed for in-person events, open for virtual oral history sessions

Due to the COVID-19 emergency, the Coney Island History Project has postponed walking tours, group visits to our exhibition center, events at schools and senior centers, and in-person oral history interviews from March 14, 2020 until further notice. 

In order to maintain social distancing while continuing to engage with our community, our staff is recording oral histories from...

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Featured Oral History Interviews

Teresa Genaro

Reflections on the history of horse racing in Coney Island in the late 19th and early 20th centuries

Taty and Ralph Alicea

Mother and son remember the Laughing Lady at Coney's Magic Carpet Fun House

Charles Berkman

Memories of growing up in Coney Island during the Great Depression and 55 years practicing law

Hyeyoung Kim and Michael Cooper

Composer and lyricist of Luna Park, a musical, on chronicling the partnership of Thompson and Dundy

Boris Kotlyar

Mermaid Spa founder talks about bringing the Russian banya tradition to Coney Island

Jeffrey Eisenmesser

Former teacher at Mark Twain Junior High School recalls his Coney Island memories

Explore Our Collection

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

The Cleon Collection: Building the Boardwalk, 1922

Hyman Cleon supervised the construction of the Coney Island Boardwalk in 1922. Many thanks to his family for recently donating Cleon's personal photographs to the Coney Island History Project. This video highlights a selection of images from the collection. Subscribe to our Coneyologist...

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.