Nearly 450 oral histories are available for listening in the Coney Island History Project’s multilingual online archive. Among the additions in March and April are the following interviews recorded for us by Mary Conlon, Daniel Gomez, Julia Kanin, and Tricia Vita.
Erum Hanif talks about her work as a Community Board #13 Member and CEO of Apna Brooklyn Community Center, a not-for-profit that serves immigrants in Southern Brooklyn. She pays tribute to her mother, who was a pioneer in expanding education for girls and women in Pakistan. "I strongly believe that whatever I am today capable of doing in my life, personal and professional, is because of her spirit," says Hanif.
Sofya Lobova was born in Kyiv in 1935 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. Lobova recalls her memories of World War II and her community activism in Coney Island, where she is a longtime resident of NYCHA's Haber Houses. This interview was conducted and recorded in Russian and includes transcripts in Russian and English.
Sam Person shares family memories of Nat Faber's Fascination arcade, which operated on Surf Avenue from 1926 through the 1970s. Person worked in Coney Island as a manager at his father-in-law's Faber’s Fascination in 1953 and 1954 when he was in college. Fascination is a group game often described as combining the luck of bingo with the skill of Skee-Ball.
Sonia Solano reflects on raising a family in Coney Island and working in local schools in the 1990s and 2000s. She also describes the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. "Coney Island means everything to me," says Solano. "I've been here thirty years."
Liz Unger shares memories of 1950's Coney Island and working in Lillian Candy Company, her family's candy factory on Mermaid Avenue. "I have a very, very soft spot in my heart for Coney Island, cause all my memories are there."
Stuart Waldman remembers summer jobs as a teen in Coney Island in the 1950s, including operating rides at Ward's Kiddie Park and working "The Dancing Dolls" game on Surf Avenue. At 19, he says he got his hack license and "aged out" of working in Coney Island.
Karen Wilcox recalls living in Luna Park Houses and going to Coney Island bathhouses with her grandmother in the 1960s. In 1962, Wilcox and her family were among the original tenants of Luna Park Houses, the apartment complex built on the site of the original Luna Park.
Please listen, share, and if you or someone you know would like to record a story remotely via phone or Zoom, sign up here. We record interviews in English, Russian, Chinese, and other languages with people who have lived or worked in Coney Island and adjacent neighborhoods or have a special connection to these places.