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

Subsistence U.S.A. and the Coney Island History Project
Before her career in the amusement business, Carol Albert worked with famed photographer Bruce Davidson to produce an acclaimed book of oral histories titled Subsistence U.S.A. Her interest in oral history led to the founding of the Coney Island...
Getting engaged on the Wonder Wheel, the most romantic ride in the world
One Saturday in May when we arrived to open up the Coney Island History Project exhibit center, a group of people holding signs that spelled out WILL YOU MARRY ME??????? caught our eye. A couple was getting engaged on the Wonder Wheel! A popular...
Memories of family picnics under the Boardwalk and making new memories at Spook-A-Rama
For Carmen Arcendiaga, a trip to Coney Island with her granddaughter Zoe evokes memories of family picnics under the boardwalk, riding the Cyclone, and the Laughing Lady. They came to Coney Island after Carmen won an essay contest for a behind-the-...
Jodie Bell visits the Coney Island History Project and discovers a 1950s photograph of her Aunt, Rachel Bell, as Miss Coney Island
Jodie Bell tells stories about her family in Coney Island, some happy and some tragic.
A look behind the scenes at Steeplechase Park
Frank Newlands worked at Steeplechase Park in its final years, maintaining the electrical infrastructure for attractions that included the Pavilion, Parachute Jump, Ferris Wheel, and roller coaster. His stories give a rare and humorous glimpse into...
Leon Borzykowski and his daughter Barbara Brown describe the family's escape from Poland to Coney Island after the Holocaust
Leon Borzykowski and his family lived in Coney Island Houses at the same time as Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson's family and Leon's daughter Barbara was best friends with Charles' sister. Young Leon escaped from the Jewish...
Russian comedienne and dancer
A conversation with comedienne Marina Ivanova, who is in love with Coney Island. 
Owners of Mermaid Prime Meats in Coney Island
Sabino Eugenio and his wife, Magda Perez in their Mermaid Avenue butcher shop, Mermaid Prime Meats. After emigrating from Mexico, Sabino worked 15 years for Jimmy Prince at his iconic butcher shop, Major Meats. The couple opened their own store...
103 year old former Coney Island strongman and boxer
At 103 years old, Joe Rollino is a former Coney Island strongman, Olympic athlete and professional boxer. A vegetarian all his life who never smoked or drank, he was a member of the Coney Island Iceberg cold water swim club for 50 years. He tells...
Worked at the RKO Tilyou Theater
John Landi worked as the house electrician for the RKO Tilyou Theater in the early 1960's when the Tilyou family still operated the theater. He was 19 years old when he started the job and stayed for two or three years. John describes his...