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

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,...

Coney Island Stories Podcast Episode 8

"Growing Up in the 2000s," the new episode of Coney Island Stories, has dropped. Listen and subscribe via your podcast app or the podcast page on our website.

Season Two’s theme is “Growing Up in Coney Island” through the decades, from the 1930s to the 21st century. In Episode Eight, the final episode of this season, we’re sharing the stories of narrators who grew up in Coney Island or came here from nearby neighborhoods, in the first decade of the 2000s.

The new millennium began with the opening of a thirty million dollar ballpark for a Mets farm team on the site of Steeplechase Park. A contest was held to name the new team and the Brooklyn Cyclones was the winning name. Whenever the Cyclones won a home game, Astroland’s Cyclone roller coaster enjoyed a surge of business.

Soon after Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office in 2002, he set his sights on Coney Island. He envisioned world-class attractions and hotels surrounded by high-rise residential development on vacant amusement land. The objective was to make Coney Island into a year-round recreational oceanfront destination by rezoning it. The ensuing zoning battle kept Coney in the headlines for the next six years, as speculators bought and sold land, and preservationists and stakeholders offered alternative visions for the future of the “People’s Playground.”

The oral histories in Episode Seven are with Ahmed Hussain, Abby Jordan, Bonnie Kong, Candi Rafael, and Eric Sanchez. The interviews were conducted by Kaara Baptiste, Allison Corbett, Amanda Deutch, Samira Tazari, and Lauren Vespoli between 2015 and 2022. This episode was produced by Charles Denson, Ali Lemer and Tricia Vita. Music by Blue Dot Sessions.

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

posted Oct 7th, 2022 in Events and tagged with Coney Island, Coney Island Stories, oral history,...

Wonder Wheel Patent 1920
Happy 102nd Patent-versary to Deno's Wonder Wheel! Filed in January, Charles Hermann's patent for his invention, which he said combined the thrills of a Ferris wheel with a gravity railway or roller coaster, was approved on September 28, 1920. An earlier design for what would one day become the Wonder Wheel was patented in 1915, writes Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson in his book Coney Island's Wonder Wheel Park.

Deno's Wonder Wheel Park is open Saturdays, Sundays, and school holidays in September and October. The History Project's outdoor exhibitions at Deno's are on display in the lower park adjacent to the Wheel during park hours.

posted Sep 27th, 2022 in History and tagged with Wonder Wheel, Deno's Wonder Wheel, Coney Island,...

Jeff Brooks

Among the recent additions to the Coney Island History Project's oral history archive are interviews with Jeff Brooks and Monica Ghee, who have worked in Coney Island for over 50 years and still have games on the Bowery; and Fred Stern, a bus driver for 35 years on the B36 route.

In his oral history, Jeff Brooks tells the story of Coney Island in the 1970s, when it was reminiscent of the Wild West and owners could rent a space and create whatever sort of attraction they wanted, often with mixed results. The Tornado Roller Coaster had a long row of amusement spaces below the ride, along Stillwell Avenue and the Bowery, and Jeff operated three different spook house dark rides at this location. Most surprising is his story about how much money one of his dark rides made during the coldest days of winter when visitors would come down on weekends to visit a snow covered Coney Island.

Jeff Brooks and Monica Ghee

In a second interview, Jeff Brooks and Monica Ghee tell an amazing tale of compassion and friendship that goes beyond anything imaginable. Business partners for 25 years with popular family games that include archery, bowling, and a high-striker, they now operate three game concessions on the Bowery at Jones Walk. Last year, when Jeff was given less than a year to live, Monica donated a kidney and saved his life. Monica Ghee's 2019 oral history is also available for listening in our online archive.

Fred Stern

Born in 1953, Fred Stern recalls growing up on West 32nd Street in Coney Island, in a house next to Sam's Knishes. In 1964, his family moved to neighboring Bath Beach, where he still lives today. Stern shares memories of being a bus driver on the B36 route from Sea Gate to Nostrand Avenue and Avenue U, and the shuttle bus inside Sea Gate. He was a bus driver for the MTA from 1978 until he retired in August of 2012. "It was like a family," he says of the passengers -- the "morning people" and "evening people" -- he picked up every day. 

More than 430 oral histories are available for listening in the Coney Island History Project’s multilingual online archive. Please listen, share, and if you or someone you know would like to record a story via phone or Zoom, sign up here. We record oral histories in English, Chinese, Russian, Spanish and other languages with people who have lived or worked in Coney Island and nearby neighborhoods or have a special connection to these places.

Photo Credits: Charles Denson, Fred Stern

NY Coastal Resiliency Plan Coney Island
The New York Harbor Coastal Resiliency Plan by the Army Corps of Engineers went live on their website on September 26, and it's a shocker. The proposed $52 billion plan for New York and parts of New Jersey will have extreme consequences for Coney Island and the surrounding shorefront communities and gives no guarantees that any of the projects will work. 

At first glance the plan seems to favor mechanical flood control rather than proven natural means such as raised living shorelines and restored marshes. There are no details provided about the mechanical "storm surge gate" on Coney Island Creek, the "elevated promenade" on the Coney Island beach, and the "extra large floodwall" at Coney Island Creek Park and Sea Gate. It appears from the report that the Boardwalk would have to be raised five feet above its current height. 

If many of the measures proposed in this plan are implemented, they could result in an environmental nightmare for local waterways, provide only marginal protection, and exacerbate flooding.
Will Coney Island be surrounded by towering floodwalls, massive levees, and mechanical floodgates? (The plan is searchable for Coney Island and maps appear on pages 139 and 202.) Make your comments known before the January 6, 2023 deadline. The plan will be finalized in two years, and construction begins in 2030. The only thing for sure is that Coney Island will never be the same. -- Charles Denson

The report can be viewed and downloaded at: Maps: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New York District">

Comments can be submitted to: 
Mr. Bryce W. Wisemiller
Project Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 

Maps: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New York District 

NY Coastal Resiliency Plan Coney Island

Coney Island Stories Podcast

"Growing Up in the 1990s," the new episode of Coney Island Stories, has dropped. Listen and subscribe via your podcast app or the podcast page on our website.

Season Two’s theme is “Growing Up in Coney Island” through the decades, from the 1930s to the 21st century. In Episode Seven, narrators who grew up here in the 1990s share stories of loss and change. They remember living in Gravesend Houses and Sea Rise apartments as well as on West 5th, West 8th and West 19th Streets. The Boardwalk, the Beach, Astroland, the Cyclone Roller Coaster and the Wonder Wheel were their playgrounds.

The decade began with the Cyclone winning a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991. The same year, a fire gutted the wooden house under Coney’s other surviving roller coaster from the 1920s, the still standing but nonoperational Thunderbolt. The house was known to film lovers as Woody Allen’s boyhood home in the movie Annie Hall, but it was originally built as the Kensington Hotel in the late 1800s. It was the last remaining structure from Coney’s original waterfront, since the shoreline at that time was much farther inland than it is now. The 1925 coaster was caught between an owner who neglected it, and City officials who considered it an eyesore. Some viewed the Thunderbolt as a symbol of Coney’s decline, but to many, it served as a monument to survival.

The oral histories in Episode Seven are with Tiana Camacho, Emmanuel Elpenord, Theresa Giovinni, Allen James, and Marina Rubin. The interviews were conducted by Amanda Deutch, Katya Kumkova, Ali Lemer, Samira Tazari, and Tricia Vita between 2014 and 2020. This episode was produced by Charles Denson, Ali Lemer and Tricia Vita. Music by Blue Dot Sessions.

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

posted Sep 9th, 2022 in News and tagged with Coney Island, Coney Island History Project, podcast,...

We're hiring a Community Engagement Coordinator!

The Coney Island History Project (CIHP) is seeking a part-time community engagement coordinator to do outreach and tabling events to support our community based programs. The CIHP’s multilingual online oral history archive features over 400 audio interviews with people who grew up, live, or work in Coney Island and adjacent neighborhoods in Southern Brooklyn, or have a special connection to these places.

The coordinator will recruit and qualify potential narrators interested in recording oral histories and participating in group reminiscence events, both remotely and in person. The coordinator will receive orientation and professional development training to be able to represent the CIHP knowledgeably and effectively. While learning about oral history and our oral history archive, the coordinator will also receive paid training to learn how to conduct, record, edit, and archive oral history interviews. 

The ideal candidate is a New York City resident with an interest in Coney Island and its history and culture. Preference will be given to residents of Coney Island and the NYCHA housing projects in the community, or those who have a familiarity with Coney Island and NYCHA housing from living or working there in the past. College students as well as retirees are encouraged to apply.

The job is anticipated to start in October and will be a hybrid position working remotely from home and in-person in the community. This is a grant funded position of 10-12 hours per week @ $20 per hour for a total of 250 hours over 20-25 weeks. After successfully completing the term of the grant, the community engagement coordinator will have the opportunity to join our roster of freelance oral history interviewers @$25.00 per hour.

-Excellent communication and interpersonal skills and ability to establish positive relationships with community residents

-Ability to work independently as well as collaboratively with oral history interviewers, and executive and administrative directors

-Recruit and schedule community residents to record oral history interviews through online and phone outreach and at in-person community events

-Keep a record of potential oral history narrators and re-contact those who expressed interest in recording an interview

-Host table and network at local events to renew and strengthen existing relationships in the community and establish new relationships

-Increase visibility and word-of-mouth and participation for CIHP and our programming in the community

-Flexibility to work evenings or weekends as needed to attend community events

-Professional or volunteer experience in community outreach

-Interest in learning how to conduct, record, edit and archive oral history interviews 

Details at a Glance

TIME COMMITMENT: Part Time Schedule

JOB TYPE: Temporary. This is a grant funded hybrid position of 10-12 hours per week @ $20 per hour for a total of 250 hours over 20-25 weeks.

START DATE: October 12, 2022


EDUCATION: High School Diploma Required

Level of Language Proficiency: Proficient in English. Fluency in another language a plus.

Location: Work must be performed in or near Brooklyn, NY

Please apply via our ad on Idealist where you can upload your resume, cover letter, and writing sample (three-paragraphs).

posted Aug 30th, 2022 in News and tagged with job alert, job, part-time job,...