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

Owner of Octopus Garden in Gravesend
Vincent Cutrone owns and operates Octopus Garden, which sells tenderized octopus and cuttlefish to restaurants in New York City and distributes the product across the country. Located on Avenue U in Gravesend, the shop was originally a mom-and-pop...
Clothing company CEO George Rudes grew up in the shadow of the Half Moon Hotel
George Rudes lived in Coney Island from 1930 until 1948 when he went off to college. He lived next door to the Half Moon Hotel on West 29th Street. His father, Leo Isaac Rudes, was president of the synagogues on Mermaid Avenue and the one on West...
Co-owner and operator of Gregory & Paul's for more than 50 years
Gregory Bitetzakis and his partner, Paul Georgoulakos, have operated a half dozen restaurants in Coney Island for more than half a century. Although they are best known for their two stands on West 8th Street at Surf Avenue and on the Boardwalk,...
Charles Robert Feltman, great-grandson of Feltmans Restaurant founder and hot dog inventor Charles Feltman
Charles Robert Feltman, great-grandson of Feltmans Restaurant founder and hot dog inventor Charles Feltman, tells the family history and describes  what Coney Island was like in the 1940s. Founded in the 1870s, Feltmans was once the world's largest...
Granddaughter of Anthony "Totonno" Pero tells the story of how he founded Totonno's Pizzeria in 1924
Antoinette Balzano is the granddaughter of Totonno's founder, Anthony Pero. At Totonno’s Pizzeria Napolitana on Neptune Avenue in Coney Island, pizzas have been made in the same way in the same spot since 1924. Anthony (Totonno) Pero, emigrated from...
Founder of Cultural Research Divers shares his knowledge of oceans, estuaries, and Coney Island Creek
Gene Ritter is a Coney Island native, environmental advocate, commercial diver and educator. He grew up on West 16th Street near Coney Island Creek and got certified as a diver as a 14-year-old. Gene is the founder and president of Cultural Research...
Long-time Coney Island resident tells the story of three generations of her family
Alfie Davis has lived in Coney Island for nearly 40 years and is the Tenant Association Leader of the Sea Rise I complex in Coney Island's West End. Part I of her family's story illuminates an incredible chapter of African-American history. The...
Craig Boyton Dudley, great-grandson of adventurer Paul Boyton, who built Coney Island's Sea Lion Park in 1895
What better place than Coney Island for a man who floated down the Amazon River in a rubber suit and was the first to swim the English Channel. Adventurer Paul Boyton opened Coney Island’s first enclosed amusement park in 1895. Sea Lion Park, built...
Coney Island resident Georganna Deas has spent forty years advocating for a better Coney Island
Economic development specialist Georganna Deas is a Coney Island resident and advocate who has lived in the Gravesend Houses on Kaiser Park for forty years.  After moving here in 1977, she worked with Coney Island Pride and then with Astella...
Louise Milano's mother, Carolina, operated Carolina Restaurant on Mermaid Avenue for 60 years
Founded in 1928, Carolina Restaurant on Mermaid Avenue was a fixture for over 60 years. Carolina, known as Carrie, prepared traditional home style cooking that remains memorable to generations of Coney Island residents. Carrie's daughter Louise and...