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 him for his environmental advocacy on behalf of Coney Island Creek.

Interviews

Memories of placing the Puerto Rican flag atop the Parachute Jump and driving the Mermaid Avenue bus
Carlos Quinones, 72, is a longtime Coney Island resident who’s well known for his collection of classic cars. He is a Vietnam War veteran and a retired MTA employee who drove the Mermaid Avenue bus for many years. In this interview he clears up the...
Author and historian of carousel horses and carvers and co-founder of the National Carousel Association
An interview with Dr. Roland Summit, author, historian, expert on carousels and carousel horse carvers, and founding member of the National Carousel Association. Beginning in 1959, Roland and his wife Jo collected, restored, and preserved hundreds...
One of Dr. Couney's incubator babies
Janet Rubino tells her story about being one of Dr. Martin Couney's incubator babies on display in Coney Island. Rubino, who weighed 23 ounces at birth, also describes a visit to the incubator exhibit when she was a child. 
Musical inspiration and meditation at Coney Island
Cuzzo Sosay is a musician and producer of gangster hip hop, soul music, inspirational music, and R & B who visited the Coney Island History Project this past summer. As a boy growing up in Brooklyn in the 1980s, his parents took him to Coney...
Groundbreaking filmmaker grew up in Sea Gate and on Mermaid Avenue
Filmmaker Joyce Chopra grew up in Coney Island and Sea Gate in the 1930s and ‘40s. Her grandparents were the owners of Kalina's Baths on Surf Avenue at West 33rd Street. Chopra describes how she got the acting bug at Lincoln High School while...
Memories of working a bread route on Coney Island's Mermaid Avenue in the 1950's and '60s
Charles Guariglia's father, Frank, was a "bread man" who delivered Stuhmer's kosher bread to the Jewish delicatessens and shops along Mermaid Avenue in Coney Island from 1947 to 1973. From age 9 until he was a freshman in college, Charles...
Daughter of Gargiulo's founder was born in an apartment above Coney Island's famous restaurant
Josephine “Chickie” Cassata is the daughter of the late Louis Gargiulo, who with her grandfather co-founded Coney Island’s famous Gargiulo's Restaurant on West 15th Street. Chickie was born in an apartment above the restaurant in 1929 and grew up...
Memories of working on the Coney Island Parachute Jump's operation crew at age 16
Ralph Avella was the youngest member of the Coney Island Parachute Jump's operation crew. Bensonhurst native Avella was sixteen years old when he began working on the landmark ride in 1961 after graduating from Brooklyn Technical High School. This...
Community activist and resident of Coney Island for more than 50 years
When this interview was recorded in 2007, Ron Stewart had lived in Coney Island for exactly half a century. He has worked as the director of a youth program and a parole officer, owned a local bookstore and barber shop, and is active in the...
Horace and Ita Bullard's attempt to transform Coney Island
Artist Ita Bullard worked for years with her husband Horace to build a world-class amusement park in Coney Island, only to have the project destroyed by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Horace Bullard obtained a 99-year lease on the Steeplechase site and...