New Years Day Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge

The place to be on New Year’s Day is Coney Island and the best way to welcome 2023 is with a splash in the Atlantic. Join the Coney Island Polar Club for their 120th Annual New Year’s Day Plunge on January 1st from 11 AM until 2 PM. The party starts on the Boardwalk at 10 AM.

Polar Bear Club president Dennis Thomas talks about the New Year's Day Plunge over the decades in an oral history he recorded for the Coney Island History Project in 2019: "It's been going on as long as anybody knows and it used to be just kind of an informal gathering of the Polar Bear Club itself. Then more people from the public," says Dennis, who began swimming with the Bears in the 1970s. "When I first started, if there were a hundred people there, we'd say, wow, this was huge. It's a bucket list thing. People want to do it once in their life and New Year's Day is a great day to do that."

There is no fee to participate but all funds raised help support local non-profits offering environmental, educational, and cultural programming including the New York Aquarium, the Coney Island History Project, Coney Island USA, Coney Island YMCA, and more.

Visit polarbearclub.org to register in advance for the New Year's Day Plunge or make a donation.

Photo Credit: Jim McDonnell
 

Coney Island History Project

Among the recent additions to the Coney Island History Project's oral history archive is an interview with Rachel Rosenberg Simon, whose grandparents owned and operated Rosenberg's Kosher Deli Restaurant on Mermaid Avenue from 1917 to 1975. 

“The store was everything!" says Simon, who grew up on West 29th Street in Coney Island around the corner from her family's business. Rosenberg’s was considered the finest deli on Mermaid Avenue as all the food in the restaurant including the mayonnaise was homemade. In her oral history, Simon describes the entire family including herself working at the restaurant, which was open fourteen hours a day, six days a week.

Simon recalls the downfall of Mermaid Avenue and Coney Island and the loss of the store due to urban renewal. In 1975, Rosenberg's went out of business when the tenants in the upstairs apartment set fire to the building. The interview was recorded by Charles Denson, who also grew up in Coney Island and remembers rescuing one of the Art Deco mirrors from Rosenberg's as the building was about to be torn down. "Those mirrors were gorgeous," says Simon. "The store was great. It was beautiful. We didn't take pictures. Who knew the store was ever gonna close, you know?"

John Philip Capello Photos By Bruce Handy

John Philip Capello is a painter and sculptor who grew up in Bensonhurst in the 1940s and '50s and moved from Brooklyn to Sag Harbor in 1989. Our newly published oral history with him is the culmination of the interviewer's twelve-year search for the mystery artist who carved faces into rocks on the shoreline at Brighton Beach.

"In 2010, I saw a photo of one of these carved faces on Twitter, but I didn't know where it was on the Coney Island peninsula," says Tricia Vita, who records oral histories for the Coney Island History Project. "So I asked my friend, photographer Bruce Handy, if he could find them. He spent the whole summer looking and at the end of the summer he actually found the rock faces in Brighton." When Vita shared the photos on her blog, some commenters remembered seeing the rocks being carved in the 1970s while others were sure the carvings were ancient. The artist remained unknown.

It wasn't until this year that Vita was able to learn the identity of the artist and record his oral history. In his interview, Capello describes carving the rocks in Brighton Beach around 1975 with his brother Luciano, who worked as a church restorer, and one or two friends. "We looked into the stones and saw what we wanted to see," he says. "A nose, an eye socket, a place to put a mouth or chin, you know, that's already there, but just take away the stone that didn't belong."

John Philip Capello Carving Photo by Bruce Handy

Capello says that he and his brother had studios in Brighton Beach and on Kings Highway in the 1970s, and once they started carving the rocks, it became an obsession. “We would call each other, ‘Hey, you're gonna go down to Brighton. Okay, I'll meet you there,’ so we packed lunches and a bottle of wine and sometimes beer.”

The stone carvings have remained out of the public eye for so long because they’re usually buried in the sand. The rock faces are visible only at low tide and after a storm.

In 2022, Jim McDonnell, another photographer friend of the interviewer, came across photos of Capello’s sculpture from a past show at Nabi Gallery. “He has a good eye and he could see it was from the same hand,” said Vita. “The gallery’s website mentioned that the artist grew up in Brooklyn. That was a big clue.” In the NY Times review of the artist’s 1999 show at Nabi, Phyllis Braff writes: “Very traditional in feeling, John Philip Capello's figurative marble sculpture combines an archaic appearance with evidence of the image being taken from the stone.”

John Philip Capello is a self-taught sculptor and painter who was mentored by his brother Luciano. “He was the only teacher I had,” Capello says in his oral history. “I never took any formal classes.” In this 2017 video recorded at the Parrish Art Museum, Capello gives a slide talk about his work.  The artist has exhibited at many galleries, including Summa Gallery in New York City and Romany Kramoris Gallery in Sag Harbor. He is a member of the National Society of Mural Painters, Artist Alliance of East Hampton, and Southampton Artists Association. His paintings and sculpture are represented in over 100 private collections.

“One of the things I enjoyed about being a stone carver,” says Capello, “is I'm a painter, but the paintings will perish. The stone will last, so they leave a legacy.”

John Philip Capello

posted Dec 18th, 2022 in News and tagged with John Philip Capello, artist, sculptor,...

Coney Island History Project

Happy Holidays from the Coney Island History Project! As 2022 comes to a close, we're grateful to our supporters.

Highlights from this year include:

•  Opening our season with a special exhibition of photography by Barbara Rosenberg (1938-2016), who documented Coney Island for 50 years and left her work to the Coney Island History Project

•  Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the opening of Astroland with a permanent exhibit of history panels in front of  the Astroland Rocket and belatedly celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 1920 Wonder Wheel with an outdoor exhibition of history banners at Deno's Wonder Wheel Park 

•  Producing Season Two of our Coney Island Stories podcast, "Growing Up in Coney Island" through the decades, from the 1930s to the 21st century, and Zoom events featuring oral history narrators from the podcast

•  Recording new oral histories for our multilingual online archive, which now has over 435 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

•  Presenting performances by dancers and musicians from the Greek Folklore Society and Jokes with Josue: A Haitian Puppet Show by Emmanuel Elpenord in the plaza below the Phoenix roller coaster in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

•  Connecting with the community at It’s My Estuary Day on Coney Island Creek in Kaiser Park and at 10th Anniversary of Superstorm Sandy screenings of Charles Denson’s film, The Storm, at Coney Island Brewery and the Maritime Film Festival at City Lore

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 19th year.

We’re counting the days until we meet again in Coney Island for the 2023 season! 

Charles Denson
Executive Director
 

As we near the end of 2022, the Coney Island History Project pays tribute to four Brooklynites that we lost this year who recorded their stories for our oral history archive: Charles Berkman, Sheldon Krimsky, Joe Lazzaro, and Aldo Mancusi. Their stories captivated, inspired and informed us and they will never be forgotten.

Charles Berkman

Charles Berkman (1928-2022)

“I was named for an uncle in Poland and Jews couldn't be lawyers then. Jews couldn't go to college in Poland. The one who I was named for practiced with other lawyers and helped other lawyers who practiced law. I heard about him all my life, like a lawyer, although he wasn't a licensed lawyer. I was going nights to Brooklyn College. So there was a girl and this girl was from the neighborhood. So I would drive her home. We became very friendly. And at one point she says, you know, Charlie, two of your classmates are going to law school. Instead of just graduating Brooklyn College why don't you think about that? And I thought it was a good idea. I thought about it a little bit all my life because I was named for this uncle who was practicing law without a license in Poland.” – Charles Berkman

Charles Berkman grew up in Coney Island during the Great Depression, the youngest of nine children of an orphan immigrant from Poland, who he describes as “the hardest worker I’ve ever known.” In his oral history, Berkman remembers helping his father peddle fruit on Mermaid Avenue from the age of 6.  As a teenager, he had summer jobs in the amusement area making waffles and setting up the milk bottles in a ball game. He graduated from Brooklyn College – at the time tuition-free -- and then from Brooklyn Law School. Taking a page from his father, who was always self-employed, Berkman hung out his shingle on Mermaid Avenue and represented his neighbors in Coney Island before going on to establish his own law firm in downtown Brooklyn. After 55 years practicing law, he gave the family firm, The Berkman Law Office, to his daughter Marna, who continues it today. 

 

Sheldon Krimsky

Sheldon Krimsky (1941-2022)

“The other thing that comes to mind was street class. It's very unusual, but some older kid, mostly a guy, I think, would get a group of kids and say, Hey, you kids want to learn something. We're going to run classes on the street. So we would all gather and this guy would teach us something on the street, would go over things. Mathematics. Social Studies. History. A few things like that. For some reason or other after we played stickball, we would go to these street classes and there were people who just wanted to teach. That was part of their, I don't know, their DNA or something. So this was something that I remember very clearly.” – Sheldon Krimsky

Sheldon Krimsky and his family lived at 2995 West 29th Street in Coney Island from the time he was four until he graduated from college. In his oral history, he shares memories of playing street games, publishing a newspaper with his classmates at Mark Twain Junior High, and working as a cashier at the corner pharmacy at age 13. A guidance counselor told him about the test for Stuyvesant High School and he spent the next four years commuting from Coney Island to Manhattan. In later years, when he returned to look for his boyhood home, it was gone. Urban renewal had resulted in the demolition of thirty square blocks in the West End. Sheldon Krimsky was Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University for 47 years. “He delved into numerous scientific fields — stem-cell research, genetic modification of food and DNA privacy among them — and sought to pinpoint the dangers,” according to his obituary in the NY Times

 

Joe Lazzaro

Joe Lazzaro (1927-2022)

“I came here with my dad when the Municipal Baths was on the beach where the Aquarium is, the front end of the Aquarium. I was a kid then. My dad would take my clothes. He’d go into the Municipal Baths. Pay 10 cents with a basket. Give them my clothes. And then I would dress and undress on the beach cause I was a youngster. That's my early days that I remember. I always swam out to the barrels. They had the barrels. So that's where I learned how to swim, take the ropes out to the barrels. And they claim that since they did away with the barrels, they have less drownings because at the time I didn't know how to swim, but I used to go out to the barrels. All the way out. And then the older boys would step on the ropes. And a few times I took some nice drinks of Coney Island water because I didn't know how to swim.” – Joe Lazzaro

Joe Lazzaro was a member of the Iceberg Athletic Club, a group of Coney Island cold-water-bathing enthusiasts, from 1971 until the club disbanded in 2007. He continued to spend time at the beach every day, often accompanied by his grandchildren. In recent years, he could frequently be found sitting in front of the Childs Restaurant building on the Boardwalk.  In his oral history, Lazzaro remembers the history of the club, its members, and the positive effects of cold-water swimming. He also recalls riding the Parachute Jump in two different locations - first as a child at the World's Fair in 1939, and then as an adult in Coney Island.

 

Aldo Mancusi

Aldo Mancusi (1929-2022)

“When we wound up in Coney Island, of course my mother made food enough for all of us. You know, we were very well taken care of as far as food is concerned but whenever we passed Nathan's, there was a tug on my father's coat. And I would say to him, "Papa…. Frankfurter!" I spoke in Italian, my first language. And so I said, I want a frankfurter. And he would give me a slap in the back of the head. And he'd say in Italian: “Walk. Walk and keep quiet.” But I didn't know why he refused me a hot dog. They were only a nickel. But you see later on, he said to me, my dear son, in my little purse--- the one that snapped shut, the old leather purses that men used to carry--he had just enough in there to get us there and get us home. We had no extra for coffee or a bottle of soda or a Nathan's hot dog. But I got even with him because now every time I pass by I stop and get at least two.” – Aldo Mancusi

Commendatore Aldo Mancusi, the founder of the Enrico Caruso Museum of America, brought his Hofbauer street organ from the museum to our Coney Island History Day celebrations in 2015 and 2016. In his oral history, Mancusi shares stories of growing up in an Italian immigrant family in Brooklyn, family outings to Coney Island as a boy, the effect that the Depression had on his father's job making designer shoes for I. Miller, and the expense of taking a date to Coney as a teen. His interest in Enrico Caruso began with his father's record collection and grew as a result of his friendship with Michael Sisca, who bequeathed his Caruso collection to Mancusi with the idea that he start a museum. Located in the Homecrest section of Southern Brooklyn, the museum was founded in 1987.  

posted Dec 14th, 2022 in News and tagged with In Memoriam, Charles Berkman, Sheldon Krimsky,...

The following selection is from my book, Coney Island Lost and Found, published in 2002. As with most of the book, I used primary source research. During the 1990s I interviewed all the key people involved in the failed 1970s plan to bring casino gambling to Coney Island. This excerpt is taken from chapter 18, The 1970s: A Decade of Revolution. Above is Horace Bullard's model for his proposed development that included a casino. The story is copyrighted. 

Casino Gambling in Coney Island, By Charles Denson

In 1976, casino gambling was legalized in Atlantic City, and for the next four years, casino fever gripped Coney Island. It seemed that we would be next. I remember the first rumors and then seeing a big billboard that the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce had placed at the Cropsey Avenue Bridge over Coney Island Creek. The sign read, “Welcome To Coney Island, The Perfect Resort for Casino Gambling.” It was painted on canvas with little starbursts and crude lettering. Yellow bumper stickers also began appearing. They read, “CASINOS FOR CONEY.” I became worried. Coney Island had enough problems, and I felt that if gambling came in, the amusement area would be wiped out, and the neighborhood wouldn’t benefit at all. Gambling would just bring more traffic and crime.

Coney Island and Atlantic City have a rivalry that dates back to the 1870s, when each competed for the title of preeminent East Coast resort. A hundred years after the competition began, both resorts had been surpassed by modern destinations like Miami Beach and Las Vegas. When the first Atlantic City casinos opened in 1978, speculators started snatching up Atlantic City beachfront property. In August 1979, the New York State Legislature formed the Casino Gambling Study Panel to investigate the feasibility of casino gambling. The panel issued a positive report that proposed a maximum of forty casinos in five locations: Coney Island, Buffalo, the Catskills, Long Beach, and Rockaway. Annual gross revenues from the casinos were projected at $3 billion. Lobbying efforts were launched to place the required amendment to the state constitution on the ballot in 1979 or 1980.

Coney Island property owners were delirious when Mayor Ed Koch predicted that Coney Island would pull in $120 million in annual revenues from table games and slot machines. Local businesses put their differences aside and banded together to fight for a common cause. The Casinos for Coney Committee was formed, and speculators began eyeing real estate in the area. For a brief period during 1979, the asking price for property on the Boardwalk rose from $3 to $100 per square foot. Ironically, the only person to profit from the proposed gambling was real estate speculator Oscar Porcelli, who bought the Washington Baths property from owner Fred Warmers and sold it to Horace Bullard for a substantial profit. 

The Casinos for Coney Committee wasn’t aware that powerful forces were against them from the start. Donald Trump, son of developer Fred Trump, had casino interests in Atlantic City and wanted to protect them. Fred Trump did everything within his power to lobby the New York State Legislature into killing the referendum before it reached the voters. By the 1980s, any chance of gambling in New York State was dead. But for a few years, Coney could once again dream of competing with Atlantic City as the top East Coast resort. 

Judging from what happened in Atlantic City, gambling would not have helped the local neighborhood but would have enriched some of the property owners. The old amusement area would have disappeared, and what kind of development would have replaced it is difficult to imagine. I interviewed most of the main players behind the Casinos for Coney coalition and asked them what it was like during the years of casino fever. 

Charlie Tesoro, owner of Walter E. Burgess Inc., is the island’s biggest realtor, and his office became the first stop for the speculators who swarmed Coney Island. “It was crazy,” Tesoro said. “Limousines would pull up with guys coming up to the office from Las Vegas, in silk suits, saying, ‘Sell to us now, get us some property, we wanna get in!’ It was like a crazy house, like the gold rush. Steve Wynn pulled up in a limo and sent guys up to my office wearing flashy silk suits and solid-gold cuff links. Every other day you’d see limousines driving up and down Surf Avenue. It was wonderful. They’d sit at my desk and say, ‘Waddaya got? We want options on everything you got. Everything!’

“They wanted options because if gambling didn’t go though, they’re out. But if gambling went through, they’d pay triple the asking price for the property. They’re not so much gamblers when it comes to their money. They want you to be a gambler. I hadda laugh at ’em. People were even buying houses! A custodian came in from Manhattan and put every penny he had on three houses in Coney Island just because his cousin was a lobbyist and heard that gambling was gonna pass. Little guys were forming consortiums. They didn’t just want to buy in the amusement zone. They wanted the residential areas, Mermaid Avenue, West Fifteenth Street.” 

Businessman Horace Bullard owned the Shore Theater building, considered a prime location for a casino. Bullard tried to sell his vision of a Coney Island gambling mecca to other landowners. His plan involved combining a new amusement park with the casinos. “At the time we started,” Bullard told me, “we knew that gambling had to be controlled. What we didn’t want was an Atlantic City. I was trying to convince people that they shouldn’t allow gambling to come to Coney Island unless it’s done right. I felt that you should have one casino and one hotel, and the revenue from them would pay to rebuild the entire amusement area. I came up with a plan for Coney Island and began lobbying the whole community. I formed what’s called an LDC—Local Development Company—and called a meeting. I wanted the board members that sat around the table at this meeting to be representative of Coney Island: the housing interests, Gargiulo’s restaurant, the Aquarium, Our Lady of Solace Church, the landowners, Astroland, Sea Gate. On the table would be a map of Coney Island with gambling being the primary issue. We could all fight for our different interests and come up with a solution, and by voting for what the board would pass, we’d have a direction that Coney Island could go with.”

Bullard held his meeting in a Manhattan hotel and unveiled an ambitious plan. It involved pooling together all of the property in Coney Island’s amusement zone, approximately eight square blocks, and building a large gambling/amusement complex. The entire facility would be above a massive parking garage at ground level. The property owners would sell their land to a newly formed corporation that would build the complex, and the landowners would be assigned an interest in the complex based on the percentage of land they had sold to the corporation. Bullard made an impressive presentation, but the landowners rejected it because they couldn’t agree on the percentages or the placement of the casino. They chose to go it alone and take their chances on obtaining options from the casino builders.

Jerry Albert, the owner of Astroland Park, told me that he felt Bullard was scheming to be the only one chosen to build a casino. “I don’t think that anyone was sure Bullard’s idea would have worked,” Albert told me. “When gambling was a hot item, everyone was talking continuously. But the feelings among the amusement ride operators weren’t friendly. They were competitive as to where gambling would go. If gambling was approved for Coney Island, it was going to be on only one or two sites, and everybody else would be out of luck. They’d have to do something else. The closer it came to having gambling in Coney Island, the more jealous people got. Bullard suggested that Astroland put in amusements, and they’d build us a parking lot underneath the amusement park. But Astroland already had the amusements. Horace had an architect and was putting out renderings and drawings, and he held meetings to explain his concept of how things should be laid out. But it was always with the idea that Horace would be the one to get the gambling.

“Every day, there were rumors that options were being sold on land in Coney Island. We were in negotiations with one of the largest casino owners. The Golden Nugget was negotiating for an option on the Astroland property. I did not get the option for one reason. It was Labor Day weekend. The biggest casino owner in the United States was flying up in a Lear jet to sign the option agreement for $12 million. My lawyer said, ‘It’s Labor Day weekend, Jerry. Why must we go through with this meeting? Everyone is busy on Labor Day weekend. If you wait until after the weekend, I can get you $17 million.’ And I said, ‘The hell with it. I’m satisfied with $12 million.’ I got into an argument with him, so we put off the signing till the following weekend. Guess what happened? Governor Hugh Carey held a news conference on television and said, ‘As long as I’m governor of New York, there will never be gambling, because gambling is basically bad for the state.’ After he made that speech, that was the end of gambling.”

The merchants of Mermaid Avenue were big supporters of the casino plans. Coney Island businessman Lou Powsner had just given a speech at a governor’s hearing at the World Trade Center in 1978 when he received a call from a representative of the gaming industry who wanted to discuss Powsner’s analysis of casinos in Coney Island. “I asked him where he was from,” Powsner said, “and he said he could not divulge that information. We later found out he was from Caesar’s World. I told him that downstate, Coney Island with its tremendous Boardwalk was ripe for development. I also pointed out that we had an abundant labor market nearby crying for jobs, a sea of unemployment.

“We formed a local group and convened five times. Our slogan was ‘Casinos Mean Jobs,’ and they did. I was up to Albany five times. I went with Charlie Tesoro and with Hy Singer, who had hoped to turn Stauch’s into a casino. The Russo family, owners of Gargiulo’s restaurant, was also in the coalition. I met Bullard a couple of years later, when he held a meeting in a high-rise castle in Manhattan and we went over his plans, which featured an amusement park. It was a tremendous proposal.”

The gambling resolution had a good chance of passing, but just before the state legislature was getting ready to vote, New York State Attorney General Robert Abrams held a press conference and said that he wouldn’t want to see happen to New York what had happened to New Jersey, with crime and prostitution. The vote never made it to the floor.

“Abrams was a stooge for a developer who didn’t want gambling,” Powsner said. “At that time, Donald Trump was a virtual unknown. On one of the trips that we made to Albany, Jerry Albert had a magazine called Gaming. In a sidebar, it said Donald Trump, the son of a New York developer, had under-water land in Atlantic City and was hoping to get the funds to build a major casino hotel. He got the funds and put up Harrah’s Trump Plaza. We went down to defeat because Donald Trump had devised our defeat. 

His last move was to get together with one of the Tisch brothers and Sam Schubert, the theater owner who said that the casinos would destroy New York’s theater district. And State Assembly Speaker Stanley Fink wouldn’t let the bill come to the floor. It was Trump who killed it. It was all political, and it destroyed New York’s opportunity to be the gambling capital.”

Charlie Tesoro told me that he agrees with the theory that the Trumps sabotaged the casino resolution. “We had everybody convinced that gambling was coming. We went to all the congressmen and senators, and they were all for it. Then Fred Trump comes in and says to them, ‘You want the Mafia? You want prostitution?’ We had no idea he was already in Atlantic City. And little junior there, Donald Trump, was heavily against gambling in New York. His old man didn’t like the way it was gonna be handled. 

We did not have enough money, and the big money was against us. We had a slush fund of $50,000 to support it, and Atlantic City had $500,000 to fight it. We had busloads of supporters, we had signatures on petitions, and the trade groups on Mermaid Avenue were for it. Gambling was the only thing that would have developed the area. It would’ve brought in hotels and millions of dollars in investment money. I couldn’t believe that New York State said it couldn’t be controlled. Meade Esposito, Democratic leader of Brooklyn, told the legislature, ‘Don’t vote for it.’ They were dupes of Trump and Atlantic City. Nobody knew that at the time. You didn’t know your enemies.” 

In the end, gambling proved to be a bad idea. By the time it reached the legislature, New York law enforcement could see the damage in Atlantic City and the inability to keep out organized crime. When a Coney Island landlord on West Fifteenth Street assaulted a tenant and tried to evict him, the incident was played up as an example of “gambling fever.” Everyone was saying that the landlord wanted to evict the tenants so that he could sell the building to speculators. 

Even before the casino resolution came up for a vote, corrupt politicians were asking for bribes. Charlie Tesoro recalls several incidents. “There were a bunch of congressmen and a couple of wise guys who all wanted 6 percent. ‘You want the gambling?’ they’d say. ‘Sign these contracts saying that such-and-such law firm will handle the case.’ You wouldn’t believe the corruption! These guys would come in and say, ‘If you don’t sign this, it’ll never even pass the first session.’ Nobody wanted to pay, but we didn’t get gambling anyway.”

Jerry Albert has no regrets and feels that Coney was better off without casinos. In 1999, I asked him if he thought the casino idea would ever be revived. “Gambling will never come back,” he told me. “Every once in a while, it rears its ugly head, but definitely it will never happen, because Atlantic City is too powerful, and Coney Island, as far as I’m concerned, has become better every year, and I’ve been in Coney Island for forty years. 

“The end of the 1960s was the low point. The trouble is that a lot of people who are in business in Coney Island have never invested any money and have let their property deteriorate. They were living with thoughts of gambling coming to Coney Island, and it was like gold fever. All the competitors basically had a shortsighted view of the situation. They were convinced that gambling was going to happen.” 

Horace Bullard seems to agree with Albert. “I don’t believe that Trump stopped gambling,” Bullard said. “I believe greed stopped Coney Island from getting gambling. Landowners’ greed.”

posted Dec 1st, 2022 in By Charles Denson and tagged with

December 10 Coney Island Creek Workshop

You're invited to join the Coney Island Beautification Project, the Coney Island History Project, and the New York Aquarium on Saturday, December 10, for a Coney Island Creek Workshop. The event will be held from 10am - 2pm at the Aquarium's Education Hall. The Aquarium is located at 602 Surf Avenue. Education Hall is accessible from the Boardwalk. Seating is limited! Please register at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/G7VS5SW.

It’s been 10 years since Super Storm Sandy . . . How will our community be protected in the future? Learn about the new Army Corps flood control plan for Southern Brooklyn. Please attend this community driven workshop and make your voices heard. How can we collectively improve storm resilience, ecological health, and public access in ways that benefit the community and Coney Island Creek?

Representatives from New York City Housing Authority, NYC Emergency Management, Environmental Defense Fund, and more will be at the workshop. Preparedness giveaways! Chinese and Russian interpreters will be present. 

November 10 Growing Up in Coney Island

You're invited to join the Coney Island History Project in November for two special events. We're excited to be wrapping up Season Two of Coney Island Stories with a conversation and a performance about “Growing Up in Coney Island” through the decades, the theme of this year’s podcast. The dates for these two Zoom webinars are November 10 and November 17, successive Thursdays, from 7-8pm.

The online event on November 10 will be a conversation about growing up in Coney Island with some of the narrators whose oral histories are featured in the podcast series. November 17 will be a reading and performance of their own work by narrators who are writers, poets, musicians, and actors. In addition, some narrators will read passages from historical memoirs about growing up in Coney Island.

The online events are hosted by Charles Denson and Tricia Vita, who co-produce the podcast with independent audio producer Ali Lemer. Charles Denson is executive director of the Coney Island History Project and the author of Coney Island: Lost and Found, named 2002 New York Book of the Year by the New York Society Library. He grew up in Coney Island and began documenting his neighborhood as a boy, a passion that continues to this day. Tricia Vita has a certificate in reminiscence and life story work and creates reminiscence events and records oral histories for the Coney Island History Project.

Tickets for the November 10 and 17 events are free of charge. Advance registration is required. You will be sent the Zoom link two days before the event.

👉 Register for Thursday, November 10 at 7:00PM - 8:00PM 

👉 Register for Thursday, November 17 at 7:00PM - 8:00PM

This program is sponsored in part by an Action Grant from Humanities New York with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Nov 17 Coney Island History Project

 

posted Nov 4th, 2022 in Events and tagged with Growing Up in Coney Island, Conversation, Reading,...

Deno's Wonder Wheel Outdoor Banner Exhibit

This month is your last chance to ride the Wonder Wheel and to see our outdoor exhibits at Deno's Wonder Wheel Park until Palm Sunday 2023! The Coney Island History Project's new permanent exhibit of history panels celebrating the 60th anniversary of Astroland is in front of the Astroland Rocket, directly across from Deno's bumper cars.

You can also see an exhibit of colorful history banners telling the remarkable story of the Wonder Wheel and Deno's Wonder Wheel Park. The banners are located on the Wheel's walkway adjacent to the History Project, as well as below Deno's Phoenix Roller Coaster on West 12th Street. The exhibits are free and on view through October 30 during park hours. Hours of operation are subject to change depending on weather conditions.

Astroland Rocket
 

The Storm Charles Denson

This month is the 10th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. On Friday, October 21, Coney Island History Project Director Charles Denson's documentary The Storm (2013) will be shown at Coney Island Brewery at 1904 Surf Avenue. The screening is at 6:30pm and is free and open to the public. The filmmaker will be present to talk about what we learned from Sandy.

Denson rode out Superstorm Sandy in Sea Gate, where his apartment and car were destroyed by the storm surge. He recorded dramatic footage of the storm coming ashore on the evening of October 29, 2012, as well as the preparations for the storm, the surge at Coney Island and Sea Gate, and the storm's aftermath.

This film is timely, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has just released the New York Harbor Coastal Resiliency Plan. The complex proposal will have extreme consequences for Coney Island and the surrounding shorefront communities. Also, there is no guarantee that the $52 billion plan will prevent catastrophic flooding. Come to the screening to find out more about the plan!
 

posted Oct 17th, 2022 in Events and tagged with film screening, film, documentary,...