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

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...
Parachute Jump lighting designer
Leni Schwendinger discusses her inspiration and process in creating a lighting design for the Parachute Jump including color selection and finding a way to express the feeling and movement of the Parachute Jump when it was a working ride. She...
Polish immigrant finds success with an Italian food stand in 1950s Coney Island
Morris Egert moved to Coney Island with his family in the early 1950's from Paterson, New Jersey to open a food stand on 16th Street across from Steeplechase Park. As recent immigrants from Poland, they served chopped liver, gefilte fish and...
Took the 13th Ave. trolley
Dave Galler grew up at 72nd Street and 12th Avenue in an area known as Dyker Beach, between Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, in the 1940's. He still remembers the details of the train and trolley routes he took to get to Coney Island. The...
Sideshow Proprietor
John Strong operated a sideshow in the summer of 2009 in Coney Island. He describes the animals in his show... all of which have unusual features such as extra eyes, heads or legs. John tells the story of a five-legged dog that caused a controversy...
Roller coaster restorer and enthusiast
Robert Maxwell came with his wife to visit Coney Island from the town of Amsterdam in upstate New York. They drove down for the day to eat Nathan's hot dogs and ride The Cyclone. Robert estimates that has ridden The Cyclone at least 35-40 times...