We're excited to announce the August 3rd publication of Charles Denson's book Coney Island's Wonder Wheel Park, which was originally scheduled for May 18. This year the landmark Wonder Wheel celebrates its 100th birthday, and to mark the occasion the Coney Island History Project director, and author of Coney Island: Lost and Found, has written a new book to coincide with this historic event. Coney Island's Wonder Wheel Park contains hundreds of never-before-seen photographs, plans, and ephemera, including rare images from the Vourderis family archive and the Coney Island History Project archive.
Deno's Wonder Wheel Park and the Coney Island History Project exhibition center remain closed due to state executive order during the pandemic. Copies of the book, presigned by the author, will be available for purchase at the boardwalk stand in front of Deno's, where you can also buy 100th anniversary souvenirs. The souvenir stand and Deno's Sweet Shoppe and Famiglia Pizzeria are open 12-7pm on Saturdays and Sundays, weather permitting. The History Project's online bookstore has temporarily suspended shipments. The book may be pre-ordered from the publisher, online retailers such as Barnes & Noble, and independent retailers.
"Historical research is really detective work and many times leads to dead ends,” writes Charles Denson about his new book. “When I began writing the Wonder Wheel's history I had to cut through the usual myths and anecdotes that surround much of Coney Island. The primary sources and records were spread out across the country. As I traced down leads I was surprised to find so many family members of the original designer and past owners who had fascinating stories and materials that they were willing to share. "
"I wrote the book on an extremely short deadline to coincide with anniversary and was designing an accompanying exhibit for the History Project when the pandemic hit, and everything ground to a halt. The book is just the first step in celebrating the centennial of Deno's Wonder Wheel, which will now take place sometime in the future. I’ve always enjoyed working with the Vourderis family, and now realize more than ever the importance of the family's resurrection and preservation of the historic landmark. Writing the book confirmed my belief that the Wonder Wheel is, and always has been, Coney Island's most remarkable attraction."
"Inside Coney Island's Wonder Wheel Park is a 1920's song celebrating the joys of the Wonder Wheel," says Denson. "It's written to the tune of the old favorite Sidewalks of New York. We planned to invite everyone to sing the song at the Memorial Day celebration of the Wheel's 100th Birthday. Since there's been a change of plans and we couldn't be together, I'm inviting everyone to sing along and wish the Wheel some love during these difficult times. If I can do it, so can you."
You can hear the song and sing along in Charles Denson's film Deno's Wonder Wheel Turns 100.