Charles Denson

Charles Denson is executive director of the nonprofit Coney Island History Project, which has created an oral history archive and sponsors educational exhibits, school programs and performances. He is the author of Coney Island: Lost and Found, named 2002 New York Book of the Year by the New York Society Library. Mr. Denson grew up in Coney Island and began documenting his neighborhood as a boy, a passion that continues to this day. A writer, photographer and art director, he began his career in 1971 as a photographer for New York magazine and has since worked as art director for numerous publications. In 1999 he was awarded a Chronicle journalism fellowship at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2013 the New York State Marine Education Association presented the Herman Melville Award to Mr. Denson for his environmental advocacy on behalf of Coney Island Creek.

Interviews

Memories of growing up on West 36th Street in Coney Island's West End
Edith Storch, 90, grew up in the West End of Coney Island at 2762 West 36th Street near Canal Avenue. She shares memories of her immigrant parents, shops and street vendors, a nickelodeon on the pier at West 37th Street on the Bay, and Coney Island...
Sign-painting legend, musician and Sea Gate resident
Sea Gate resident Sam Moses, 66, is one of Coney Island's finest sign painters. He shares memories of his boyhood apprenticeship at a sign shop in East New York and his dreams of painting in Coney Island.  In 1998, he moved to Sea Gate and started...
Memories of growing up in a Jones Walk rooming house in 1940s Coney Island
Gloria Nicholson was born in Coney Island in 1940 and grew up in a rooming house that her mother Josephine Boyce managed on Jones Walk and the Bowery. It overlooked the Virginia Reel and Wonder Wheel, which she often rode.  During the summer her...
Grandson of sword swallower Joseph "Ajax" Milana and DeWise Purdin "The Handless Sharpshooter"
Van Milana, 65, was born on Dewey Place in the area of Coney Island called "The Gut" before Trump Village and Warbasse. He shares memories of both of his grandfathers, who were famous sideshow performers in Coney Island. Milana recalls his paternal...
Carpenter, mechanic, and showman who started his career operating roller coasters and road attractions
Donald Ferris, who passed away on January 4, 2018, was involved with everything that Coney Island had to offer. From the age of 14 he worked nearly every ride and attraction as well as building or repairing anything and everything. He was a...
Coney Island native Adam RealMan Rinn bends steel with his bare hands!
Strongman Adam "RealMan" Rinn grew up in Coney Island, swims with the Polar Bear Club, and teaches at the Coney Island Sideshow School.  
Memories of growing up in Coney Island Houses and on Mermaid Avenue in the 1950s and '60s
Musician Andy Fuhrman grew up in Coney Island Houses and on Mermaid Avenue and remembers every store in the neighborhood. Andy was on the football team at Lincoln High School in the 1960s, worked games on the Bowery, and was a pioneering surfer at...
Sea Gate resident on her girlhood memories of Coney Island and passing them on to her daughter
Currently a resident of Sea Gate, Irene Karas was born in Belgium and grew up in Bensonhurst and on Ocean Parkway. She recalls excursions to Coney Island beach with her family.  As a young girl, Irene would "roam all of the nooks and crannies of...
Memories of growing up on Mermaid Avenue and working games in Coney Island from age twelve
Michael Goldstein,  known as "Looch," worked games in Coney Island for over half a century. He started out in 1954 at age twelve, earning 75 cents an hour, and by his fourth year was a partner in the game. "It was a different era, a different...
Owner of Peluso Machine and Iron Works
John Rea owned and operated Peluso Machine and Iron Works in Coney Island. From 1947 until his retirement, he repaired or worked on nearly every famous ride in Coney Island. He was on call 24 hours a day and could build any part for any ride, an...