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

Model Maker and Music Producer
Roy grew up in Coney Island and, among many other ventures, makes exquisitely detailed scale models of rides like the Himalaya, at which he also worked when he was a child. He tried to get a job at Astroland when he was too young but, eventually,...
Grew up in Luna Park Houses in the 1970's and worked at Nathan's
Maria and Gwen grew up in Luna Park Houses and recount with great joy and pride what it was like to live in Coney Island during the 70's. Maria tells in extraordinary detail her job selling food at Nathan's. Saying that she was among the...
Fisherman performs his Tahitian-inspired song "This Place, Coney Island"
Musician Brian "Fisherman" Lease visited the Coney Island History Project and performs a Tahitian inspired song he wrote called "This Place, Coney Island."
Remembers Astroland Rocket
Louis has fond memories of riding Astroland's one-of-a-kind Rocket simulator, the very first ride to arrive at the space-age themed park in 1962. On January 28, 2009, Louis, who works at the Aquarium, was excited to see the 71-foot Rocket on a...
Grandson of Coney Island Developer William J. Ward
Jack Ward recounts his family’s long history in Coney Island. He begins with his great grandfather John Ward's purchase of beachfront property at 12th Street and Surf Avenue in 1879 and continues through his grandfather William J. Ward's...
Grew up in Brighton Beach
Joan lived in Brighton Beach from 1940 to 1961 and has visited every summer all her life. She has various isolated childhood memories, including riding the Parachute Jump, the Mermaid Avenue library, the "third rail" of the Steeplechase...
A lover of Steeplechase Park
Paul says Steeplechase is in his blood. He would go there with his family from 1955 to 1963 when the pool closed. When he went back in '66, he realized how much he missed it and began collecting Coney Island artifacts. To date he has collected...
Lived in Coney Island since 1961
Dorothy moved to Coney Island in 1961 from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. She has also lived in Brighton Beach and Ocean Parkway and remembers "the west side" near Seabreeze Park (now known as Asser Levy Park). She...
Author and key figure in the counterculture of the 1960's shares his Coney Island memories
Legendary Paul Krassner reads an excerpt from his autobiography, "Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in the Counter-Culture" about his experience at Steeplechase Park. Paul Krassner passed away on July 21, 2019 at the...
A lifetime resident of Coney Island
Barbara was born in Coney Island and has lived there are her life. She describes riding the Parachute Jump in the early 60's and remembers other rides and attractions.