George Ancona

The art of growing up Mexican American in Coney Island in the 1930s and '40s

George Ancona is a photographer, writer, art director, filmmaker, and illustrator. At Coney Island's Lincoln High School, Ancona studied with Leon Friend, who chaired the school's art department and served as a mentor to many famous graduates in the art world including photographer Jay Maisel and illustrator Seymour Chwast.

Born in 1929, the son of Mexican immigrants, Ancona grew up in the heart of Coney Island and worked at many of the local attractions before beginning a career that included becoming art director of Esquire Magazine and writing dozens of children's books. Among his youthful memories are incidents at Coney Island Creek, working in the Spookhouse, and painting signs for many of the rides.

George Ancona passed away on January 1, 2021 at the age of 91.