Wards Baths - copyright Charles Denson
A new exhibit on the cultural history of Coney Island's bathhouses and the art of bathhouse tags will open on August 11 as part of our "History Day" celebration and will be on view through September 3rd.

Bathhouse tags There were once more than 50 bathhouses of all kinds lining the beach at Coney Island. A century ago bathhouses provided the only access to the beach and, for many, a home away from home. Now hardly anyone knows what a bathhouse is. The shorefront facilities were a popular cultural phenomenon, providing entertainment, lockers, changing rooms, showers, swim suit rentals, steam baths, massive salt water pools, athletic equipment, game courts, restaurants, and fenced wooden decks for nude sunbathing. This exhibit provides a history told in photographs, admission tickets, oral history, and the folk art of bathhouse key tags.

The Coney Island History Project is open Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 12 noon - 6pm through Labor Day. Admission is free of charge. Our exhibit center is located at 3059 West 12th Street at the entrance to Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, just a few steps off the Boardwalk.

bathhouse tag
Coney Island History Project The exhibition center is also open by appointment for schools and groups and for special events. It is the starting point for the Coney Island History Project's popular walking tours of the amusement area. The 1-1/2 hour walking tours are led by historian Charles Denson or poet/teaching artist Amanda Deutch, who have over 100 years of family history in Coney Island! Please visit our online reservation website to see the walking tour schedule and purchase advance tickets online. If you have a question or to arrange a group tour, e-mail events@coneyislandhistory.org.
posted Aug 10th, 2012 in News and tagged with

Coney Island's Shore Theater, a short film by Charles Denson featuring his never-before-seen photos of the building's ornate interior debuted a few days ago on Mr Denson's "Coneyologist" channel on YouTube. At the same time, the exhibit "Inside the Shore Theater: Photographs by Charles Denson" is on view at the Coney Island History Project through September 3rd. The exhibit center is open to the public on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 12 noon - 6pm. Admission is free of charge.

Shore Theater Coney Island History Project "The Shore Theater represents not just Coney's golden past, but also its bright future," Mr Denson said last summer, when the landmark was inducted into the Coney Island Hall of Fame. The seven-story, neo-Renaissance style theater and vaudeville house and adjacent 14-story office building at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues opened in 1925 and operated for half a century. Both structures have been closed and sealed up for decades. The theater's facade was granted landmark status in 2010, but the interior is not protected and vulnerable to demolition. The images in the film and the exhibition provide a rare glimpse of a Coney Island treasure.

Loew's Mermaid Photo by Charles Denson Mr Denson is one of the few people who has seen the inside of the Shore Theater in recent years. "The interior of the Shore (formerly the Loew's Coney Island) is a visual delight, a treasure trove of complex architectural details that ranks it among the finest of New York's surviving movie palaces," he said. "Below the theater's massive 150-foot dome are frescoed walls and vaulted ceilings covered with decorative nautical-themed plasterwork motifs featuring scallop shells, crabs, and squid medallions as well as wind-blown sailing ships with full sails and fluttering flags, breezing across a border of crashing waves. The mezzanine's colorful half dome ceiling is supported by a curving row of Ionic columns crowned with rows of beautiful dancing mermaids set into decorative diamonds."

"Local elected officials and the City's EDC have expressed an interest in buying and restoring the theater, but as time passes the fate of the structure's unique interior, which is not landmarked, becomes more uncertain every day. This architectural treasure must be preserved."

posted Aug 10th, 2012 in News and tagged with

Children's call for entries

This season the Coney Island History Project is presenting "Coney Island Kids See Coney Island! Art, Photography and Poetry." Young people who live or go to school in Coney Island and are currently in grades K-12 are invited to be part of a special exhibit featuring their perceptions of their neighborhood. Artwork, photos, and short poems are featured in a digital slide show and a rotating display of original work at the Coney Island History Project's free exhibit center. Work will also be shown online via CIHP's flickr photo sharing page and Facebook.

Artists and their families will be invited to a special event at the Coney Island History Project in the fall to celebrate the exhibit and will receive a limited edition souvenir badge.

GUIDELINES

  1. Send a scan or photo of your work as a jpeg via email to coneyislandhistory@gmail.com
  2. Mail original work up to 11 x 17" to Coney Island History Project, c/ Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, 3059 West 12th St, Brooklyn NY 11224
  3. Bring work to the Coney Island History Project during exhibit center hours. We're open Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 12 noon - 6pm through Labor Day.

There is no fee to enter the show. Include the artist's name, age, zip code and school. Photos of people requiring a release are not eligible.

The project is supported by a JPMorgan Chase Foundation Grant by the Brooklyn Arts Council. The JPMorgan Chase grants support Brooklyn-based arts organizations whose primary mission is to provide arts and cultural activities open to the general public.

kidsArtSponsors

This organization has received funding from the 2012 JPMorgan Chase Regrant Program, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council, Inc. (BAC).

posted Aug 10th, 2012 in News and tagged with

historyDay2012

Celebrate historic Coney Island and enjoy live music, entertainment and history on Saturday, August 11, 2012, from 1pm - 6pm at the 2nd Annual History Day at Deno's Wonder Wheel Park and the Coney Island History Project.

History Day festivities include live music by New York City's legendary Hungry March Band, Ragtime and Dixieland by the Banjo Rascals, and Benjamin Ickies and the Coney Island Screamers, who attack Golden Age Circus Music with a rock 'n' roll attitude. Plus the always amazing Lady Circus! The performances are free to the public and will be held at the Wonder Wheel, the Coney Island History Project and throughout Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park.

On History Day, visitors can test their Coney Island smarts at the Coney Island Trivia Contest with historian and author Charles Denson. Prizes include ride passes for Deno's Wonder Wheel Park and souvenir postcards from the Coney Island History Project. If you have a Coney Island story to share, come and record your memories for the History Project's Oral History Archive. You may also schedule an in-person interview by emailing info@coneyislandhistory.org.

bathhouse

A new exhibit on the cultural history of Coney Island's bathhouses and the art of bathhouse key tags will open on History Day at the Coney Island History Project. There were once more than 50 bathhouses of all kinds lining the beach at Coney Island. A century ago bathhouses provided the only access to the beach and, for many, a home away from home. Now hardly anyone knows what a bathhouse is. The shorefront facilities were a popular cultural phenomenon, providing entertainment, lockers, changing rooms, showers, swim suit rentals, steam baths, massive salt water pools, athletic equipment, game courts, restaurants, and fenced wooden decks for nude sunbathing. This exhibit provides a history told in photographs, admission tickets, oral history, and the folk art of bathhouse key tags.

Additional free events on History Day include Deno's Draw-a-thon, where adults and children are invited to draw a picture of the landmark Wonder Wheel, which will be part of an online photo exhibit. Crayons and paper will be provided. Visitors who dress in 1920's garb get one free ride on the landmark Wonder Wheel, which first opened in 1920. Visitors are also invited to take their photos with old-timey cutouts at Deno's Wonder Wheel Park and the Coney Island History Project's Steeplechase horse from the legendary ride that gave Steeplechase Park its name.

posted Jul 24th, 2012 in News and tagged with

shoreTheater

Never-before-seen photos of the ornate interior of the Shore Theater Building by Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson are on view at our exhibition center through September 3rd. The new exhibit "Inside the Shore Theater: Photographs by Charles Denson" is open to the public on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 12 noon - 6pm. Admission to the Coney Island History Project is free of charge.

shorePoster

The seven-story, neo-Renaissance style theater and vaudeville house and adjacent 14-story office building at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues opened in 1925 and operated for half a century. Both structures have been closed and sealed up for decades. The theater's facade was granted landmark status in 2010, but the interior is not protected and vulnerable to demolition. The images provide a rare glimpse of a Coney Island treasure.

In August 2011, the Shore, formerly known as the Loew's Coney Island, was inducted into the History Project's Coney Island Hall of Fame in the architecture category. "The Shore Theater represents not just Coney's golden past, but also its bright future," said Charles Denson at the ceremony. "Now that it's been granted landmark status, the Shore awaits a renovation that will make it the year-round entertainment center of a new Coney Island."

spookhouseCar

New displays at the Coney Island History Project include vintage signs from Spook-A-Rama, the classic 1955 dark ride that still operates in Deno's Wonder Wheel Park. Visitors are invited to chill out by sitting in an eye-popping spookhouse car and taking a souvenir photo. The car was designed by Bill Stabile for Harvey Fierstein's "Spookhouse" in 1984. After the play closed, artists Philomena Marano and Richard Eagan put it on display at the Coney Island Hysterical Society's Spookhouse in the Dragon's Cave, which was on West 15th Street across from the Thunderbolt.

A selection of photos from this season's acclaimed exhibit "Abe Feinstein: 50 Years of Coney Island Photography" will remain on view through the summer. A new exhibit on the cultural history of Coney Island's bathhouses and the art of bathhouse tags will open on August 11 as part of our "History Day" celebration.

The History Project is located at 3059 West 12th Street at the entrance to Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, just a few steps off the Boardwalk.

The exhibition center is also open by appointment for schools and groups and for special events. It is the starting point for the Coney Island History Project's popular walking tours of the amusement area. The 1-1/2 hour walking tours are led by historian Charles Denson or poet/teaching artist Amanda Deutch, who have over 100 years of family history in Coney Island! Please visit our online reservation website to see the walking tour schedule and purchase advance tickets online. If you have a question or to arrange a group tour, e-mail events@coneyislandhistory.org.

posted Jul 20th, 2012 in News and tagged with

creekMarkers

Coney Island's 26-acre Kaiser Park, the neighborhood's largest park, was built in the 1930s atop a former mudflat on Coney Island Creek. Last week, a series of informational plaques designed and created by Charles Denson were installed on the creek side of the park. The Coney Island History Project received a grant from Partnerships for Parks to create a self-guided walking tour brochure and markers for the Coney Island CreekWalk at Kaiser Park. The brochures debuted in April, when Mr. Denson gave a slide-talk about Coney Island Creek's history and future followed by a short walking tour of the creekfront at Kaiser Park. The CreekWalk at Kaiser Park is a starting point for experiencing the creek's ecology and history, including the fishing pier, ship graveyard (including the wreck of the Yellow Submarine), wildlife, sand dunes, and other points of interest. Charles Denson's forthcoming book on Coney Island Creek will cap his 45-year documentation of this fascinating waterway.

posted Jul 20th, 2012 in News and tagged with

heritageAward

Coney Island History Project Executive Director Charles Denson, who grew up in and has documented Coney's West End, received the Coney Island Heritage Award from the Amethyst Women's Project and citations from the New York State Assembly and New York State Senate for his work as a historian, photographer and author. Pictured above at the Awards Ceremony at Amethyst Street Fair on June 29 are Alec Brook-Krasny, New York State Assembly Member; Diane Savino, New York State Senator; Charles Denson, Coney Island History Project Executive Director; Aida Leone, Amethyst Women's Project Executive Director; and Rev. Connie Mobley, Pastor of United Community Baptist Church.

"We honor and thank you for your tireless effort and dedication," says the citation from the State Assembly. "As a person who gives exemplary service to their communities, whether through participation in voluntary programs, through unique personal achievement in their professional or other endeavors or simply through a lifetime of good citizenry."

posted Jul 20th, 2012 in News and tagged with

The Coney Island History Project is pleased to announce the upcoming photo exhibit "Abe Feinstein: 50 Years of Coney Island Photography," on view from June 2 through July 1.

Abe Feinstein

Photographing Coney Island became Abe Feinstein’s passion after he moved there with his family in 1962. For the next half century he documented the neighborhood's fast changing streetscape on a daily basis. Part archeologist, part photojournalist, Feinstein presents a body of work that is not overly sentimental or nostalgic. His vision is an unblinking yet optimistic look at how the “People’s Playground” was transformed by politics, disasters, and urban renewal. From the last days of Steeplechase Park to the City’s recent controversial redevelopment, Abe Feinstein documented it all.

Abe worked in Manhattan’s Camera Barn, and had access to equipment ranging from small half frame cameras to the best Leicas. 83-year-old Feinstein is still a prolific shooter who is always experimenting and his photographs of the neighborhood, especially his unique night shots, capture the magic of Coney Island as no one else can.

"Abe Feinstein: 50 Years of Coney Island Photography" will be on view from June 2 through July 1, Saturdays and Sundays from 12 noon- 6pm, and by appointment to groups. The Coney Island History Project exhibit center is located at 3059 West 12th Street at the entrance to Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, just a few steps off the Boardwalk. For additional information, e-mail events@coneyislandhistory.org.

posted May 11th, 2012 in News and tagged with

Come Meet the First Restored Horse! Saturday, May 5th & Sunday, May 6th 12 noon-4 pm Hosted by the Coney Island History Project

Special Event Features Photo Exhibit and a Contest to Name the First Horse

B & B Carousel

Please vote today and every day till May 21 at Partners in Preservation, http://partnersinpreservation.com/ to help Coney Island's historic carousel win a grant!

On the first weekend of May, the Coney Island History Project will host the "B & B Carousell Open House" in cooperation with the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Come meet and get your photo taken with the first restored horse from Coney Island's beloved Bishoff and Brienstein Carousell! Acquired by the City in 2005, Coney Island's historic B & B Carousell is being restored by Carousels & Carvings in Ohio. Photos and film of the restoration process will be on view at this very special event.

bbHorse

Charles Denson's photos of the historic 1919 carousel in operation will also be on display along with archival images from the Coney Island History Project.

Visitors to the open house will be able to submit their vote to name this first "reborn" horse! The winner will be announced soon after the event.

The entire carousel will return home in 2013 to a new pavilion next to the Parachute Jump in Steeplechase Plaza, which is currently under construction. Architectural renderings will be on view at the open house.

"Dozens of carousels have left Coney Island forever but the B & B Carousell is the only one to actually leave and come back," said Charles Denson, director of the Coney Island History Project. "The city should be commended for restoring and returning this magnificent icon to its former home so that a new generation can enjoy its kinetic beauty and craftsmanship. The Coney Island History Project is proud to host this event."

The B & B Carousell Open House will be held on May 5 and 6, Saturday and Sunday, from 12 noon till 4:00 pm. Admission is free of charge. The Coney Island History Project's exhibition center is located at 3059 W 12th Street at the entrance to Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, just a few steps off the Boardwalk. Our regular exhibition season is from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day. The exhibit center is also open year-round for special events, walking tours and by appointment for schools and groups. For additional information visit our website or email events@coneyislandhistory.org.

posted Apr 25th, 2012 in News and tagged with

location
You're invited to preview the Coney Island History Project's exhibition center on Coney Island's opening day of the 2012 season. Located on West 12th Street at the entrance to Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, our newly expanded exhibition center--twice the size of last year--will be open from 12 noon to 6 pm on Sunday, April 1. Admission is free of charge. Palm Sunday is the official season opener for Coney Island's rides and attractions. Starting at 11 am with the 34-year-old family tradition of the "Blessing of the Rides," the Vourderis family of Deno's Wonder Wheel Park will host an opening day celebration. Hope to see you at the festivities!

Stop by our exhibit center to view historic artifacts, photographs, maps, ephemera and films of Coney Island's colorful past and preview selections from our 2012 season.

This year's exhibitions will feature never-before-seen vintage films and photos, folk art treasures, and rediscovered wonders from Wonder Wheel Park. Our popular Steeplechase horse from the legendary ride that gave Steeplechase Park its name will be on display again, along with a rare Mangels "Fairy Whip" car and the original Coney Island toll house sign from 1823. Colorful banners depicting honorees of the Coney Island Hall of Fame will also be on display on Jones Walk in Wonder Wheel Park.

You'll find the Coney Island History Project's exhibition center under the Wonder Wheel's iconic entrance sign on Denos D. Vourderis Place (West 12th Street), just a few steps off the Boardwalk. We'll also be open on Easter Sunday and for special events in April and May--visit our Facebook page or follow us on twitter for updates. Our regular exhibition season is from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day. Hours are 12 to 6 pm on Saturdays, Sunday and holidays. The exhibit center is open year-round by appointment for schools and groups. For additional info, e-mail events@coneyislandhistory.org

posted Mar 22nd, 2012 in News and tagged with