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

Community activist and resident of Coney Island for 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...
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...
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...
Son of West End and Sea Gate shopkeepers in the 1940's and 50's
Fogel grew up in Coney Island's West End and Sea Gate in the 1940's and 50's, attending PS 80 and PS 188. His parents ran several shops in the West End, providing him with an interesting perspective on life in the bungalow colonies...
Coney Island resident and member of the 1960's girl group, The Cookies
Margaret Ross moved to Coney Island from North Carolina in the mid 1950s. She became part of the girl group, The Cookies, along with Earl-Jean McCrea and Dorothy Jones. The Cookies recorded songs by Neil Sedaka, as well as songwriting team Carole...
Memories of Tunnels of Love ride operator John Kavakos
Neal recalls his father, John Kavakos, a "street urchin" from Greece who came to Coney Island and built the Tunnels of Love at the Bowery and 12th Street. The attraction consisted of a serene boat ride that took passengers past various...
Longtime resident of Coney Island and former President of the Polar Bear Club
Scarcella grew up in Coney Island during the 1950s and 1960s. His father was a beat cop, and he later became a cop and detective in the homicide unit. He moonlighted as a barker for Spookarama and El Dorado and was the President of the Coney Island...
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...