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

Devoted Cyclone Rider
At the time of this interview, Howie was in Coney Island on opening day to ride the Cyclone for the 50th year in a row. He was accompanied by his family, who have also been riding the Cyclone for years. Howie brought his wife to Coney Island shortly...
Cyclone Marathoner
Avid Cyclone rider Bill Galvin recounts the time he wore a dress to participate in a women's marathon on the Cyclone roller coaster in 1997.
Son of Richard Carillo, Concession Owner
Nicholas Carrillo's father Richard emigrated from Italy and moved to Coney Island in the late 1940's. He introduced a bowling game and Skee Ball to Coney Island. He also used to repair the intricate Sodamat machine, brought to Coney...
Owner of Williams Candy and past owner of Fascination Arcade
Peter Agrapides owns and operates the Williams Candy shop next door to Nathans. He began working in Coney Island in 1949 and also owned the Fascination game arcade on Surf Avenue next to the old Loew's (Shore) Theater.
D.J. Vourderis adds solar panels to the Wonder Wheel
The Wonder Wheel is going green! Solar panels are being added to power a re-creation of the original 1920s lighting scheme on the swinging cars. Charles Denson interviews D.J. Vourderis, grandson of Deno's Wonder Wheel Park founder Denos...
87-year-old remembers the Nickel Empire
Joseph Albanese returns to Coney Island after seventy years to talk about his memories of growing up there. He used to steam at the Washington Baths with his family, eat at Nathan's, and go on all the rides (including the train to get there)...
Grew up on Avenue Z in the 1930's and 40's
Jocelyn Cantor remembers walking to the Boardwalk from her home on Avenue Z and spending whole days at Steeplechase Park with her cousin when they were children. When she got older, Jocelyn and a girlfriend recruited some soldiers on leave to...
Owner of Sheepshead Bay tattoo shop recounts when Coney Island's Stillwell Ave was "Tattoo Alley"
Coney Island Vinny talks about the well-known tattoo artists of the 1950's before tattooing became illegal in Coney Island from 1961-1998. Stillwell Avenue was "Tattoo Alley" and hosted many shops run by local characters with names...
Photographer who worked on a city ambulance for Coney Island Hospital in the late 1970's
Steve started his career in 1975 at age 19 as an EMS ambulance technician for Coney Island Hospital. He shares some of the memorable calls from his midnight shifts through much of the late 70's. Today, Steve is a published photographer who has...
Lived on Mermaid Ave. between 35th and 36th Streets between 1945 and 1965
Robert Shapiro lived on Mermaid Avenue until his marriage in 1965. He and his wife both grew up in Coney Island and remember neighborhood restaurants, stores and social clubs. Local celebrities like Neil Diamond, Woody Guthrie and Louis Gossett, Jr...