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.


Member of the Seven Immortals
John recalls being a member of The Seven Immortals, a Coney Island gang, back in the 1970's. He talks about joining forces with the other gang in the area, Homicides Inc., to defend Coney Island from gangs from other neighborhoods. John's...
Relatives lived under the Thunderbolt
Harold Kramer's great aunt and uncle, Molly and George Moran, owned the Thunderbolt roller coaster and lived in the house under its tracks. Harold remembers Molly and George just laughing when the coaster shook their house since it was "...
First in line for a ride on the Cyclone
Erik Knapp of the rock band Mystical Children arrives in the middle of the night to be the first person in line to ride the Cyclone on opening day. He shows off his fresh tattoo of the ride's top hill.
13-year-old side show worker and activist
Thirteen-year-old Coney Island activist Patrick Burns works at the Side Show, Astroland, and El Dorado. He speaks of his love for Coney Island, "one of the great world wonders," and his plans for saving the place he loves.
Amusement Ride Operator
Louis Ritter, born in Coney Island on the 4th of July, worked a variety of amusement rides including three carousels and the boardwalk train ride in the 1960s. He also ran a cotton candy stand. When he was a child, people mistook him for John...
Locker Boy at Oriole Baths who hung out at Washington Baths with his friends
Marty Reich spent his teenage years as a locker boy at Oriole Baths on 16th Street and the beach, handing out towels and soap. He went to Oriole Baths with his family, but hung out at Washington Baths with his friends. His uncle, a champion...
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...
Coney Island Cyclone coaster marathoner
Avid roller coaster 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.