2000 - 2009

A Coney Island native's memories of running amusement games
Eliot Wofse grew up in Luna Park Houses across the street from the amusement area, which he calls his playground. His elder brothers worked as game agents and regularly sent him off to play, for free, at Steeplechase Park and Playland Arcade. At...
Content type: Oral History Item
Lifelong Coney Island resident and author of Living Life Like It's Golden
Dionne Brown, who has lived in Coney Island all her life, also works here.  She grew up in Surfside Gardens and attended Surfside School (PS 329), Bay Academy, Lincoln High School, and Kingsborough Community College.  A love of reading was instilled...
Content type: Oral History Item
Co-owner and operator of Gregory & Paul's for more than 50 years
Gregory Bitetzakis and his partner, Paul Georgoulakos, have operated a half dozen restaurants in Coney Island for more than half a century. Although they are best known for their two stands on West 8th Street at Surf Avenue and on the Boardwalk,...
Content type: Oral History Item
Homeowner and community activist in Coney Island's West End for almost 30 years
Grace Lo and her family moved from Chinatown to Coney Island's West 35th Street in 1989 when they bought one of the homes built by Astella Development. Lo was elected Vice President of the West End Residents Association, which covers West 32nd to ...
Content type: Oral History Item
Artist and Coney Island resident recalls growing up on Mermaid Avenue above Carolina Restaurant
Artist Johanna Gargiulo Sherman grew up in Coney Island, where her family lived on Mermaid Avenue in a cold water flat above Carolina Restaurant. Her father Joe "Carolina" Gargiulo led a musical trio and was one of the partners in this popular ...
Content type: Oral History Item
Ecuadorian-born Gravesend resident is among NYC's fastest long-distance runners in his age category
This interview was conducted and recorded in Spanish. Read Leslee Dean's transcript and translation below. Julio Sauce, 44, is a resident of Gravesend who has been running marathons, including the Coney Island 5K, Brooklyn Half Marathon and New...
Content type: Oral History Item
Community activist and president of the Carey Gardens Tenants Association
Shirley Aikens has called Coney Island her home for nearly 40 years and is very active in the community. She is president of the Carey Gardens Tenants Association and a member of Community Board 13 and the NYPD's 60th Precinct Community Council....
Content type: Oral History Item
Granddaughter of Anthony "Totonno" Pero tells the story of how he founded Totonno's Pizzeria in 1924
Antoinette Balzano is the granddaughter of Totonno's founder, Anthony Pero. At Totonno’s Pizzeria Napolitana on Neptune Avenue in Coney Island, pizzas have been made in the same way in the same spot since 1924. Anthony (Totonno) Pero, emigrated from...
Content type: Oral History Item
Founder of Cultural Research Divers shares his knowledge of oceans, estuaries, and Coney Island Creek
Gene Ritter is a Coney Island native, environmental advocate, commercial diver and educator. He grew up on West 16th Street near Coney Island Creek and got certified as a diver as a 14-year-old. Gene is the founder and president of Cultural Research...
Content type: Oral History Item
Coney Island carny kid and water race game operator on the Bowery
Candi Rafael, whose family operates games on Coney Island's Bowery, grew up here and started helping out as an eight-year-old. Now 22, she says "I have to say it's made me stronger." She says working here has taught her the value of hard work as...
Content type: Oral History Item