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

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...
David Louie's family owned the popular Wah Mee Restaurant on Mermaid Avenue
David Louie's family owned the Wah Mee, a Chinese restaurant on Mermaid Avenue at 24th Street. The establishment opened in the 1940s and was an extremely popular destination for generations of Coney Island residents. David's father emigrated from...
Bungalows and fires in the West End in the 1960s
Theresa Veldez grew up in the bungalows of Coney Island and experienced the best and the worst of neighborhood during a turbulent decade. During the 1960s, the once popular summer bungalows of Coney were transformed into year-round residences by...
Her father, Anthony Cosmo Pomaro, owned Cosmo Topper's Beauty Parlor on Mermaid Avenue
Carole Scheer grew up in Coney Island and tells the story of her father, Anthony Cosmo Pomaro, who owned and operated Cosmo Topper's Beauty Parlor on Mermaid Avenue. After serving in the Air Force during WW II, he attended beauty school and opened...
"Hot Dog Queen" and Winner of the 1972 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest
For more than 40 years, Melody Andorfer worked as a registered nurse on the front lines at Elmhurst Hospital. She worked in the neo-natal intensive care unit, drug and alcohol rehab, the acute brain trauma unit, and also spent ten years as an...
Longtime Coney Island resident and president of Coney Island Beautification Project
Longtime Coney Island resident Pamela Pettyjohn is president of the Coney Island Beautification Project, a non-profit environmental advocacy organization based in Coney Island. The organization was formed  to encourage community involvement and...
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...
Reflections on running Wilensky Hardware, a 100-year-old family business on Mermaid Avenue
Wilensky Hardware on Mermaid Avenue is an anchor of the community and the oldest family-owned business in Coney Island. The store survived a century of urban renewal, arson, hurricanes, crime waves, and the civic neglect that led to the closing of...
Memories of a gorilla show, a bungalow colony, and an underground city beside the beach
Coney Island native Robert Whitney has lived here all his life and worked in the amusement area for decades. He recalls doing electrical work starting in the 1980s for amusement operators Norman Kaufman, Ronnie Guerrero, "The Twins," and Jeff Brooks...
The art of growing up Mexican American in Coney Island in the 1930s and '40s
George Ancona is a photographer, writer, art director, filmmaker, and illustrator. At Coney Island's Lincoln High School, Ancona studied with Leon Friend, who chaired the school's art department and served as a mentor to many famous graduates in the...