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

1944 Lincoln HS graduate and former West Brighton resident
Alvin Dorfman, a 1944 graduate of Lincoln High School, was raised on Seabreeze Avenue in the West Brighton section of Coney Island. Dorfman recounts here his memories of the military presence in Sea Breeze (now Asser Levy) park and of life in Coney...
Lincoln HS graduate and former West End resident in the 1940's and 50's
Leibowitz grew up in the West End on West 30th Street between Surf and Railroad Avenues in the 1940's and 50's. In this interview he recalls his many jobs in the amusement area, cruising the neighborhood with Bowery Boy Huntz Hall and...
Outside talker at the World in Wax Musee and lifeguard in the 1950's and 60's
Mark Breyer grew up in Coney Island in the 1950's and 60's. He worked in a variety of jobs, from dry cleaning boy to outside talker at the World in Wax Musee to lifeguard on the beach. In this interview he recalls fetching fish for the...
Coney Island game operator
Cesar came to Coney Island from California and began working for various amusement operators in 1979, running their games and rides and managing their operations. Eventually he struck out on his own with games on Jones Walk and later operated games...
Planner behind the new Stillwell Avenue subway terminal
Tom is the Deputy Chief of Capital Planning at New York City Transit and was involved in the planning, design and engineering of the new Stillwell Avenue terminal, the largest subway terminal in the world. He explains the concept and what some of...
Coney Island singer/songwriter who wrote "Save Coney Island" and "Hot Dog Song"
Amos Wengler moved to Trump Village in Coney Island as a teenager in 1962. Today, he is a professional musician best known for his "Save Coney Island Song," which he has performed outside of City Hall and on Broadway. He first performed...
Coney Island concessionaire
Arthur Melnick grew up in Coney Island in the middle of the last century. Here, he recounts his experiences working concession stands in the amusement district during the 1960s, a difficult period for Coney Island. He speaks specifically about rides...
Summer resident of Sea Gate
Namomi Gorin and her family spent many Sundays in Coney Island as a getaway and an opportunity to spend time with extended family on the beach. She tells stories of her memories of Sea Gate, the beach and rides of Coney Island.
Incubator baby
Roslyn Tromer was one of Dr. Couney's "incubator babies". Dr. Martin A. Couney was a neonatologist during the early part of the 20th century who saved many premature infants through the use of incubators. In order to increase...
Depression-era resident and survivor of the 1932 fire
Goldie Durlester, daughter of a ladies' coat and suit pattern maker, was born in 1925. In the period prior to the start of the second World War, Durlester lived in a half-dozen or so locations around Coney Island and the West End. A survivor of...