2010 - 2019

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 resident and proprietor of Coney Island Hook and Bait Shop
Derrick Batts, 50, has been a resident of Coney Island and an avid fisherman since boyhood. In May, he and his son Derrick Jr. opened Coney Island Hook and Bait Shop on West 24th Street just off Mermaid Avenue. They sell an array of bait and fishing...
Content type: Oral History Item
Visiting scholar whose research interests include theme park studies
A professor of American Studies at the University of Mainz in Germany, Florian Freitag recently spent a year as a visiting scholar at the New York City College of Technology. Officially here to do research on 19th-century magazines, his other main...
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
Founder and director of Brighton Ballet Theater, now celebrating its 30th year
Coney Island resident Irina Roizin emigrated from Ukraine in 1976 and realized her childhood dream of founding a ballet school, Brighton Ballet Theater, in 1987. Roizin recounts first impressions of Brighton Beach and Coney, the challenges of...
Content type: Oral History Item
Revisiting the Spook-A-Rama and Wonder Wheel of his boyhood
Michael Borruto shared his memories of riding Spook-A-Rama and the Wonder Wheel as a 10-year-old. On an August 2016 visit to Coney Island with his wife and friends, he wanted to revisit and ride Spook-A-Rama. "I didn't even know it was still there...
Content type: Oral History Item
Coney Island resident for 43 years, community gardener and musician
Santos Torres has lived in Coney Island for 43 years, tends the Santos White Community Garden, and plays music on the Boardwalk during the summer.  Located on Mermaid Avenue, the garden was founded in 1995 and is part of the City's GreenThumb...
Content type: Oral History Item
Memories of Coney Island in the 1930s and '40s and growing up in Brooklyn in an Italian family
Commendatore Aldo Mancusi, the founder of the Enrico Caruso Museum of America, brings his Hofbauer street organ from the museum to our annual Coney Island History Day celebrations. Born in 1929, Mancusi shares his memories of coming to Coney Island...
Content type: Oral History Item