Coney Island History Project 20th Anniversary

Celebrating our 20th year in 2024, the Coney Island History Project opens for the season on Saturday, May 25th, of Memorial Day Weekend. Since the History Project's inception in 2004 with a portable recording booth on the Boardwalk and the inaugural season of our exhibition center in 2007, we have proudly offered "Free Admission for One and All!” The exhibition center is open free of charge on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day. Our hours are 1:00 PM-7:00 PM. We're located at 3059 West 12th Street, next to the West 12th Street entrance to Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, just a few steps off the Boardwalk.

Visitors can view historic artifacts, photographs, maps, ephemera and films of Coney Island's colorful past. You’re invited to take free souvenir photos with "Cy," the mesmerizing Spook-A-Rama Cyclops, and Coney Island's only original Steeplechase horse from the legendary ride that gave Steeplechase Park its name. Our rarest treasure on display is Coney Island's oldest surviving artifact from the dawn of the "World's Playground." The 1823 Toll House sign in our collection dates back to the days when the toll for a horse and rider to "the Island" was 5 cents!

Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson was recently invited to participate in a fascinating new exhibit at the New-York Historical Society titled Lost New York. The exhibition “explores the landmarks, vistas, pastimes, environments, monuments, communities, and modes of transportation that once defined this city.” Preserving pieces of a vanishing past is the theme, and on display are a treasure trove of artifacts and artworks from the museum’s vast collection. Denson was invited to write a panel relating to the lost natural environment of Coney Island as illustrated by 19th century paintings and photographs. “My panel explains that sometimes what was lost in the past can be restored if there’s public awareness and advocacy." 

According to Denson, “Chief Curator Wendy Nālani E. Ikemoto has a unique vision regarding the complexities of New York City history and has paired each object in the exhibit with stories by contemporary New Yorkers.” There are more than 100 objects in the show that define New York’s past, but also show the importance of landmark preservation. Lost New York is on display until September 29, 2024.

posted May 19th, 2024 in Events and tagged with Lost New York, New-York Historical Society, exhibition,...

In a joyful dedication on May 11, the walkway along Coney Island Creek in Kaiser Park was officially named Gene Ritter Way. The ceremony took place during Estuary Day, the annual event founded in 2015 by Gene as a way to celebrate, protect, and restore the neglected Coney Island Creek estuary. Coney Island native Gene, who passed away in 2018, was a commercial diver, environmentalist, and educator dedicated to teaching youth about local history and marine environments. He was also the diver who discovered and recovered the historic Dreamland Bell, which was displayed at the Coney Island History Project in 2009. You can listen to Gene's oral history, which he recorded in 2016, on the Coney Island History Project's website at:



posted May 12th, 2024 in News and tagged with


"Watch Her Dance to the End of Love," Benny's storefront on West 12th Street. Photo by Charles Denson.

By Charles Denson

A phone call from Benny always began with a private joke: “Charlie, tell me what’s new in the World’s Playground.” A bit of irony. The amusement world that Benny had known all his life was fast disappearing. He was old-school and didn’t follow Coney Island politics or gossip. Our long conversations took place in the off-season, when things were quiet. During the summer Benny worked his games 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and had no time to talk. He stayed focused on his little world on West 12th Street. 

After years of trading stories, I asked if he wanted to record an oral history. He said, “When I’m gone you can tell my story.” We recorded over several years. No one else could better express the ups and downs, the joy and despair of working and living in Coney Island. He had many lives, a survivor in a sometimes cruel world. You can listen to Benny Harrison's oral history here:

Benny was a quiet, well-read contrarian: shy, elusive, creative, brilliant, a sweetheart who was difficult to pin down and always absorbed in a heavy book about world history, architecture, or philosophy. He liked silly jokes and puns and spoke in riddles. He was a quiet genius always inventing, building, restoring, or repairing mechanical devices in his cramped, tiny shop behind the games. He enjoyed making people smile by providing unusual tableaus, signs, displays, prizes, toys and tricks, things like the dancing marionettes that no one else offered. Objects remembered from childhood.

In 2011 the Coney Island History Project moved to Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and the following year Benny left Jones Walk when the Vourderis family gave him the space next door to ours. We became twin attractions on 12th Street! His stand was bright and colorful. Next to his Skin-the-Wire game were two of Benny’s idiosyncratic creations: the mechanical Dancing Girl (Miss Coney Island) and the adjacent animated Coney Island diorama portraying a happy miniature world.

The Dancing Girl danced to unusual tunes chosen by Benny: sometimes reggae but usually the Australian bush ballad “Waltzing Matilda” or the sentimental version of “Over the Rainbow,” by Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwoʻolei. Both attractions can still be played for a quarter, something unheard of in Coney Island. A small sign says that you can "fall in love" for 25 cents. He later added the cute mechanical kitten and puppy that dance and wiggle below Miss Coney Island’s feet. The Dancing Girl has thousands of friends who come to visit and dance with her each summer. 

The signs above Benny’s games are often a source of bewilderment: “Watch Her Dance to the End of Love” a reference to the Leonard Cohen song, “Dance Me to the End of Love.” “Coney Island Always” is the optimistic sign that hangs above a lively miniature animated Coney Island window display. And of course, “Don’t Postpone Joy.”

In his final years Benny still came to work while recovering from cancer, heart disease, and a series of strokes. Benny never took the simple path. He was still building, repairing, and restoring his own games while also helping solve mechanical problems for others. Some of his games were overly complicated puzzles. He’d sit back and watch customers try to figure them out. The games were fun, but not big moneymakers, and sometimes it seemed that he was building them just to amuse himself. 

Benny had a hard life. He grew up in Coney Island during the 1940s and 50s, and at the age of 12 began working in his father’s candy factory. His father died young. He was a gambler who lost the family business in a card game, plunging the family into poverty. Benny and his mother wound up living in a one-room apartment in Sea Gate while trying to pay off his father’s debts.

Benny continued in the candy business as a teenager with a stand at Feltmans Restaurant that he and his mother operated. When Feltmans closed, they became Astroland’s first tenant. During the park’s construction, Benny had two cotton candy machines on a plywood box, painted red and white, powered by an extension cord reaching from a nearby restaurant. Business was conducted over the fence.

Benny's hexagonal stand in Astroland, c. 1963. Photo © Coney Island History Project

In 1963 Benny hired an architect and commissioned a new stand, a hexagonal structure just inside the entrance to the park. Benny worked at the new store while studying engineering at Hunter College night school, where he had enrolled at age 17. The following year he was drafted into the Army.

Benny hated the Army and took an exam for Naval Aviation at Floyd Bennett Field and received high scores. The draft board sent him to the Navy Aviation Electrical School in Jacksonville, Florida, for training in building jet plane control systems. This is where he learned the skill for building animated figures and robotics. He learned to build games by working on military fighter jets. Benny remained in the Navy reserves for six years while working in Coney Island and expanding his numerous businesses. 

During the 1960s Benny began buying up Coney Island property. After Astroland expanded, he was forced to demolish his hexagonal stand, but opened two soft ice cream stores in the park. He purchased several distressed properties, including the old Shore Hotel on Henderson Walk at Surf Avenue. On the day that the sale closed on the hotel, the FBI stopped Benny from entering the building as they were arresting a fugitive from their 10 Most Wanted list who was living upstairs in the hotel. A week later the hotel manager had a stroke, and Benny found himself running a hotel. From there it went downhill.

Benny bought and later lost the Shore Hotel on Surf Avenue in the 1960s. It was demolished in 2011. Photo by Charles Denson.

Next, he bought a one-story structure next to the Popper Building (now a shooting gallery) and opened a colorful storefront selling candy apples, popcorn, frozen bananas, ices, and taffy. Benny developed new candy products such as a caramel coconut popcorn that became quite famous. He used antique machines with heavy brass molds to produce all kinds of sweets.

Benny's candy store on Surf Avenue in the late 1960s. Photo © Coney Island History Project.

Benny operated successful businesses at both locations only to lose the buildings and businesses due to a failed marriage and brutal divorce. Later, the owners of these properties would make millions by selling them during the Coney Island rezoning.

Benny started over with a variety of games. He teamed up with game builder Charlie Walker and opened a small machine shop. He also ran a printing business and traveled to flea markets and fairs selling lithographs and toys. He built penny pitches, fishing games, shooting galleries, boxing puppets, carnival wheels (one of which wound up in the movie Goodfellas), and every kind of game imaginable, all with a twist, a Benny signature of sorts that made them unique. 

Coney Island became violent in the 1970s, and it was risky to operate open games. Ride booths were attacked, and buildings were vandalized, burned, and burglarized. The Homicides street gang broke into Benny’s Boardwalk store and stole most of his equipment. He also lost several dozen antique mutoscope arcade machines that were in storage, machines that now sell for thousands of dollars each. 

Benny in his shop repairing an antique arcade machine from the 1920s. Photo by Charles Denson.

Eventually Benny wound up on Jones Walk, in a stand that Jack Ward owned. His neighbors were his sister and brother-in-law, Dinah and Wally Roberts. Wally owned the historic Grashorn Building on the Walk and gave Benny a space upstairs to use as a shop. Jones Walk was alive and thriving with all kinds of games until the rezoning of Coney Island in 2009, when all the properties changed hands. Jones Walk would never be the same, and the future became bleak for the small independent businesses that once operated there. 

Benny would have gone out of business if it weren’t for the kindness of the Vourderis family, owners of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. He reopened his games and a small shop in the space below the kiddie park. The store was soon filled with prizes including marionettes, jewel boxes, and a million toys. Everyone who played the games got a prize, win or lose. Benny was able to enjoy another decade of intrigue in the heart of the World’s Playground. 

Benny Harrison died on March 11, 2024. He was cared for and looked after by his friends who worked with him and loved him and put up with his nonsense. With his passing went a way of life that is slowly coming to an end. Benji, you will be missed.

You can listen to Benny Harrison's oral history here:

Benny contemplates the crowd at his stand during the Mermaid Parade. "They don't play the games," he lamented, "they only drink!"  Photo by Charles Denson

posted Mar 15th, 2024 in By Charles Denson and tagged with Benny Harrison, Benjamin Harrison, Coney Island,...

Benny Harrison

Coney Island has lost one of its most creative and beloved souls. Our good friend and neighbor, Benny Harrison, passed away on the morning of March 11 at the age of 83. For more than 60 years Benny Harrison brought fun and smiles to visitors who enjoyed his delightful, artistic creations. For the last ten years Benny’s stands on West 12th Street entertained thousands with his dancing girl, Miss Coney Island; an animated diorama of Coney Island; and a storefront of quirky games. All of these attractions were designed and built by Benny, who also operated several homemade candy stores in Coney Island over many decades. Benny was a one of a kind, witty, soulful, beautiful man who will be missed terribly by all who knew him.

posted Mar 11th, 2024 in News and tagged with In Memoriam, Benny Harrison, Benjamin Harrison,...

Johns Bait and Tackle

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. In his oral history, Morris Egert, a self-described “greenhorn” from Poland, talks about "Mary and John" of the bait and tackle next door to his brand-new food stand on West 16th Street in Coney Island in 1951. He vividly describes the kindness of Cynthia Nuara’s great-grandparents, who saved the Egert family’s business by teaching them how to make Italian food.

"When we opened up, my mother made a gefilte fish and chopped liver and knishes," Egert recalls. "And this wonderful lady, Mary, came in. She says, you know, this is not the right place here. You want that? You gotta go up 29th Street, 30th Street. You're in the wrong place for this. And this wonderful lady really saved us. She came in and she taught us how to make pizza and sausage and peppers.  And we ate up the chopped liver.“ Morris Egert went on to become a successful caterer.

“I knew my great-grandmother well, she died when I was 12,” wrote Nuara, after listening to Egert's oral history. “She was super opinionated so this interview is making me smile. I can just see her re-doing this guy’s whole business! And before the bait and tackle, they did own a restaurant.”

Nuara's great-aunt Gail Polise, whose late husband Vincent was John and Mary's son, shared the following information, family photos and business cards. They tell the history of the Polise family's businesses in Coney Island, starting with a restaurant with furnished rooms in 1929.

Polise Business Cards

Coney Island business cards in chronological order from 1929 through the 1970s, clockwise from top left. Photo courtesy of the Polise family.

"John Polise was an Italian immigrant from Capri, Italy.  He was proprietor and chef of Santa Lucia, an Italian restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  There he met and married Mary Scotti, a Williamsburg native.  Their children, Rose and Vincent, were born in Williamsburg. Having grown up on the Isle of Capri, it was only fitting that John was drawn to Coney Island. In 1929 he and Mary moved their family and business to Coney Island.

"John's first venture in Coney Island was the Tre Stelle Restaurant and seasonal rentals on the Bowery.  The restaurant occupied a large ground level area and the rental rooms were above.  John and Mary seasonally accommodated and fed tourists and visitors to the Island.  It was very hard work and their livelihood for almost nine years, until John opted for a restaurant only.  Mary was then relieved of the responsibility of the rental rooms. In 1938 he opened John's Restaurant at West 16th Street and the Boardwalk.  Vinny remembered he and his sister helping to bus dishes and set tables.  The restaurant business, although successful, was labor intensive.  In the 1940s John began to transition to a bait and tackle only venue.  He operated John's Bait & Tackle from then until 1974.  He was located on West 16 Street near the Boardwalk entrance closest to the pier.  John, Mary, Vinny, and Rose worked long hours and happily catered to the needs of the Coney Island fisherman.

John Polise

John Polise with the day's catch. Photo courtesy of the Polise family.

"According to Vinny, Coney Island was a wonderful place to grow up.  He loved the atmosphere and the people. During the season it was bustling with people, excitement and opportunities to earn a few extra pennies by selling soap slices outside the bathhouses or 'barking' at a concession or selling homemade bags of confetti for the end of season Mardi Gras. The winter was desolate for those who lived there year round.  However, the friendships were hard and fast. Both he and Rose had lifelong Coney Island friends. After their years on the Bowery, the family lived in various Coney Island apartments, until they settled into an apartment at 1526 Mermaid Avenue."

Vincent Polise was a public school teacher in New York City and lived in Coney Island until 1961. Rose raised her family (including Mary Celentano, Cynthia’s mom) on West 17th Street until they moved to Staten Island in 1965. If you have any snapshots of John's Bait & Tackle or John's Restaurant, please send to and we'll be happy to forward to the Polise family. --Tricia Vita

posted Feb 4th, 2024 in History and tagged with Oral Histories, oral history, Morris Egert,...

Coney Island History Project

Photo: Jimmy Prince, Charles Denson and John Dorman at Ruby's on the Coney Island Boardwalk in 2011.

We're sad to hear that our friend John Dorman, 93, has passed away. John Dorman and Philips Candy were Coney Island landmarks. His smiling face and bright colorful candy store were the first thing you’d see when entering the Stillwell Terminal in the morning, and again when returning from work at night. You could always depend on a kind word and a smile when stopping by for a cup of coffee.. And of course there was his delicious home-made candy on display in the windows of the business he operated for half a century.

It was a shame that the MTA would not let him return after the station was renovated. Coney’s loss was Staten Island’s gain when he reopened his store at the other side of the Verrazano Bridge. He was a Coney Island original: a caring, hard-working man. He will be missed. You can listen to John Dorman's 2010 oral history interview with Charles Denson for the Coney Island History Project here

posted Dec 29th, 2023 in News and tagged with John Dorman, Philips Candy, Coney Island,...

Astroland Star

The Astroland Star was recently featured in the Smithsonian's Air and Space Quarterly! The star, which dates to the early 1960s, will be prominently displayed in the Living in the Space Age gallery scheduled to open at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in 2025. "The aesthetic of the Astroland park at New York's Coney Island was the embodiment of the optimistic futurism in the early Space Age," an article previewing the new exhibit says. "When visitors first enter the gallery they will see the star from the park's actual sign." The photograph seen above, which History Project director Charles Denson took of the star lit up at night, will be on display with it.

The eight-foot-high lighted star from Astroland's entrance gate was donated to the Smithsonian by Carol and Jerry Albert, owners of Astroland Park and founders of the Coney Island History Project, in 2009. Margaret A. Weitekamp, curator in the Museum’s Division of Space History, said at the time: “The National Air and Space Museum is delighted to receive this important popular culture artifact into the national collection. Astroland embodied the widespread excitement about early human spaceflight in the early 1960s. Having a Star from the Astroland gateway, where thousands of people passed to enjoy this entertaining vision of the space age, is a wonderful example of that space craze.”

The Living in the Space Age gallery, depicted in the artist's rendering below, will occupy three levels in the Museum. You can see the Astroland Star at the lower right.

Astroland Star 

posted Dec 21st, 2023 in News and tagged with

Happy Holidays 2024

Happy Holidays from the Coney Island History Project! As 2023 comes to a close, we're grateful for our friends and supporters.

Highlights from this year include:

• Opening our exhibition center season with a special exhibit about the past, present, and future of the 100-year-old Riegelmann Boardwalk

• Presenting outdoor exhibits at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, including an installation of history panels in front of the Astroland Moon Rocket and history banners adjacent to the Wheel and below the Phoenix Roller Coaster

• Celebrating Coney Island’s 200th anniversary by displaying and honoring Coney Island’s oldest surviving artifact, the 200-year-old Coney Island Toll House sign that dates to 1823 and is the centerpiece of our collection

• Recording new oral histories for our multilingual online archive, which now has over 460 interviews with people who have lived or worked in Coney Island and nearby neighborhoods of Southern Brooklyn or have a special connection to these places

• Publishing Salvation by the Sea: Immigrants, Coney Island, and The Fresh Air Cure, by Charles Denson. A book about the Coney Island "Seaside Homes" built by charities during the late 1800s and early 1900s to provide a summer respite for immigrant mothers and their children

• Producing a special event featuring master paper cutter Ming Liang Lu recalling the tradition of Coney Island's silhouette cutters of the past. In the plaza in front of the History Project, visitors were invited to have their portrait cut free of charge and view portraits as they were being created 

• Connecting with the community by offering free events such as our Coney Island History Show and Tell reminiscence event via Zoom and our Immigrant Heritage Walking Tour of Coney Island as part of Immigrant Heritage Week

Your donation or membership today will help support our 501(c)(3) nonprofit's free exhibits, oral history archive, and community programming as we enter our 20th year.

We’re counting the days until we meet again in Coney Island for the 2024 season!

Charles Denson, Executive Director

posted Dec 21st, 2023 in News and tagged with

As we near the end of 2023, the Coney Island History Project pays tribute to five Brooklynites that we lost this year who recorded their stories for our oral history archive: Eliot Wofse, Michael Onorato, Ralph Perfetto, Santos Torres, and Sofya Lobova. Their stories captivated, inspired and informed us and they will never be forgotten.

Eliot Wofse

Eliot Wofse (1956 - 2023)

“Well, in the early sixties, my brothers worked for different people in Coney Island and I would visit them. I was a little kid. And how I started was, my brothers worked in the balloon game and I would go into the back of the balloon game and blow up the balloons. There was no machines in those days to blow up the balloons. I spent the whole day blowing up the balloons and I got good money cause in those days, you're lucky if you got paid 50 cents an hour, I was getting paid almost $2.00 an hour. So they were paying me to blow up these balloons in the back of the house, because at my age, which was about eight years old at the time, you couldn't be in front of the house.” – Eliot Wofse

Eliot Wofse grew up in Luna Park Houses across the street from the amusement area and by the time he was a teenager he had learned how to run any game. He recalls the 1960s through the mid- '70s, when he made good money, and the "scary times,” the late 1970s and early '80s, when "the City forgot about Coney Island." After a long hiatus, Wofse returned to Coney and successfully operated the fishbowl game in 2010 and 2011. In his oral history, he reflects on his philosophy of running amusement games and interacting with customers, and the unsustainable cost of private proprietors like himself doing business in the new, corporatized Coney Island.

Michael Onorato

Michael Onorato (1934 - 2023)

“Once I got a little older that I could come down to Coney Island by myself on the subway, I sometimes would stand out on the Parachute Jump's platform. And if someone came along that didn't have anybody, the ride attendant would sort of gimme a 'Hey, Mike! Mike, would you like to ride? Go up with the guy.' Oh yeah, sure, sure. You know? Yeah. And then of course sometimes when I went up on a date they'd stop the ride going up, you know, thinking that that was fun for me. Well, my father spotted that once or twice and he told them, 'Don't you ever do that again. Because no one's gonna understand that he's the boss's son. You're giving him a time to kiss the girl. You know what I mean?' He said, 'That's not fun for me, the manager. Send him up. He goes up and he comes down like anyone else.'”—Michael Onorato

Michael Onorato was the son of James Onorato, who was the general manager of Steeplechase Park from 1928 to 1964, when it closed. He remembers the park in vivid detail and describes growing up there. In his oral history, he gives a start-to-finish account of going on the Parachute Jump and the Steeplechase ride including details long forgotten by most visitors about how the staff operated the rides.

Ralph Perfetto photo by Charles Denson

Ralph Perfetto (1934 – 2023)

“I was born at 2711 West 16th Street. I was delivered by a midwife in a house owned by my maternal grandparents. In fact, it's the house that my mother was born in 22 years to the day before me. And the family story has it, that my mother was in labor. She had her oldest sister with her, who was a nurse in World War I so was familiar with how to take care of her. And my mother had an urge for a Nathan's hot dog. So she said to my father Frank, I feel like having a hot dog. My father said I'll go get it. But on the way to Nathan's, he got involved in a card game. He had a friend who was the father of Lou Salica, the three-time bantamweight champ. Got involved in a card game. And when my aunt finally ran up to him and said, the midwife just delivered you a nice son, he ran up and got the hot dog. At that point my mother wasn't really interested in the hot dog. Basically, so that was my start.” – Ralph Perfetto

In his oral history, Ralph Perfetto describes the diversity of West 16th Street in Coney Island, where he grew up. He talks about the various jobs he had as a young man --picking vegetables at local farms where the Coney Island train yards are located now and tending to the horses at the local stable. In the 1970s, Perfetto led the fight to save Coney Island’s Italian neighborhood from urban renewal, including the house where he was born. He went on to become the area’s Democratic District Leader. In recent years, he found a second career, as an actor named Raffaelo Perfetto, in the movie The Irishman and The Good Wife.

Santos Torres

Santos Torres (1948 – 2023)

“I help everybody in the community, whenever they need any vegetable, I give it to them. I don't sell nothing. I give it to them. Eggs. I give them to the community. I give them everything I grow here, I give it, you know, I give it away. All the neighbors, everybody comes they have a pantry. Santos, can I get some red peppers? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Santo,s can I get some duck eggs? Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Take your eggs. Yeah. Yeah. Santos, can I get some collard greens? Can I get the cabbage? Can I get the okra? I give it away. Yeah. I just share with the community. That's what I do here. I share with everybody.” – Santos Torres

Santos Torres lived in Coney Island since 1973, playing music on the Boardwalk and tending the Santos White Community Garden. Located on Mermaid Avenue, the garden was founded in 1995 and is part of the City's GreenThumb network of community gardens. In his oral history, Torres says that he named it Santos White because everything was painted white. He kept roosters, chickens and ducks, and grew a variety of vegetables, sharing the eggs and produce with his neighbors. Torres recalled learning to garden from watching his father as a young boy in Puerto Rico. Picturesque statues dot the garden, which was rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy and was the gardener's "home away from home."

Sofya Lobova

Sofya Lobova (1935 – 2023)

“We went straight to Brooklyn. Then we got an apartment in Coney Island on Surf Avenue. My husband and I promptly went to Haber House Senior Center. Well, they said, “You need to help us." I, of course, loved being helpful with all my heart. That's how I grew up and that's how my parents raised me. There were many events held for the veterans. People wanted to talk, they wanted to talk about their fate. So, I held a series of these evenings when they talked about emigration, when they talked about the Holocaust, or where they had been. Those who were in the concentration camps brought the things that they saved. The mother of the head of the Haber House was in a German camp. And she brought a knitted shawl made of goat down, which she had preserved in the camp. Every person poured out their soul and these evenings became a habit.” – Sofya Lobova

Sofya Lobova was born in Kyiv in 1935 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. In her oral history, Lobova vividly describes her childhood memories of having to evacuate during World War II and her career working in Kyiv's Department of Culture. In Brooklyn, she became one of the leaders of the Russian-speaking community in Coney Island. Lobova was a longtime resident of NYCHA's Haber Houses and was the president of its senior center for many years.

Photo Credits:  Charles Denson (Perfetto), Julia Kanin (Lobova), Dan Pisark (Onorato), Fran Bass Serlin (Wofse), Samira Tazari (Torres)

posted Dec 18th, 2023 in News and tagged with In Memoriam, Eliot Wofse, Michael Onorato,...