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

Fisherman performs his Tahitian-inspired song "This Place, Coney Island"
Musician Brian "Fisherman" Lease visited the Coney Island History Project and performs a Tahitian inspired song he wrote called "This Place, Coney Island."
Remembers Astroland Rocket
Louis has fond memories of riding Astroland's one-of-a-kind Rocket simulator, the very first ride to arrive at the space-age themed park in 1962. On January 28, 2009, Louis, who works at the Aquarium, was excited to see the 71-foot Rocket on a...
Grandson of Coney Island Developer William J. Ward
Jack Ward recounts his family’s long history in Coney Island. He begins with his great grandfather John Ward's purchase of beachfront property at 12th Street and Surf Avenue in 1879 and continues through his grandfather William J. Ward's...
Ran a penny arcade for over 20 years
Stanley relates a fifty-year history of penny arcades in Coney Island. He and his brother ran a few of them and knew the locations and owners of many others.
Lived in Coney Island since 1961
Dorothy moved to Coney Island in 1961 from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. She has also lived in Brighton Beach and Ocean Parkway and remembers "the west side" near Seabreeze Park (now known as Asser Levy Park). She...
Grew up in Brighton Beach
Joan lived in Brighton Beach from 1940 to 1961 and has visited every summer all her life. She has various isolated childhood memories, including riding the Parachute Jump, the Mermaid Avenue library, the "third rail" of the Steeplechase...
A lover of Steeplechase Park
Paul says Steeplechase is in his blood. He would go there with his family from 1955 to 1963 when the pool closed. When he went back in '66, he realized how much he missed it and began collecting Coney Island artifacts. To date he has collected...
Lived in Coney Island until age 11 and is back for the first time in 25 years
Susan, who now lives in Israel, lived in Coney Island from 1955 to 1966 and this is her first visit back in over 25 years. Her parents would save up to come to the amusement park area only once a year and Susan's favorite part was Steeplechase...
Lifelong Coney Island resident
Betty has lived on 32nd Street between Mermaid and Neptune Avenues for 37 years. Before that she lived in a bungalow, from which she had to move when it was being torn down in 1963. The apartment building she lived in next was also torn down. She...
Has lived in Coney Island for 41 years
Marina has lived in Coney Island for 41 years and in same apartment for 32 years. She remembers the many second-hand stores, her first knackwurst at Rosenberg's deli, the truck with the swimming pool for kids at 30th Street, spending the night...