Coney Island Beach

Educator at New York Aquarium and passionate observer of Brooklyn wildlife
Jen Kepler is an educator at the New York Aquarium whose titles are Manager of Volunteers and Visitor Engagement and Live Interpretation Manager. The Brooklyn native recalls aspiring to work there ever since her childhood visits to see the beluga...
Content type: Oral History Item
Memories of growing up on West 29th Street and meeting her lifeguard husband on Coney Island Beach
Ellen Abrams' earliest memory is sitting in a wicker carriage and being taken for a stroll on the boardwalk by her mother and grandmother. Growing up in Coney Island in the 1940s and '50s, Ellen enjoyed birthday parties every July on the beach and ...
Content type: Oral History Item
Memories of Coney Island in the 1920s and '30s
Born in Harlem, Ida Rosenblum Gambrell, now 94, spent her childhood summers in Coney Island at her aunt's home on Surf Avenue and West 24th Street. Ida recalls her mother giving her and her sister 20 cents to take the train from 103rd Street to 42nd...
Content type: Oral History Item
Brooklynite who was a lifeguard in the 1950s and met his wife of 60 years on Coney Island Beach
Born in 1938 in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Martin Abrams learned to swim at Washington Baths pool and worked as a lifeguard for six summers at Coney Island Beach. It was there that he met his wife Ellen.  "My first time working at Bay 21, I noticed...
Content type: Oral History Item
Memories of bus trips to Coney Island with the Good Will Family Club from the 1940's through 1961
From the 1940s through the 1970s, bus trips to Coney Island were so popular that concessionaires recall 50 to 100 buses arriving on Saturday mornings and staying till 6 or 7 at night.  Growing up in a close-knit family in Philadelphia, Alonzo...
Content type: Oral History Item
"Hot Dog Queen" and Winner of the 1972 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest
For more than 40 years, Melody Andorfer worked as a registered nurse on the front lines at Elmhurst Hospital. She worked in the neo-natal intensive care unit, drug and alcohol rehab, the acute brain trauma unit, and also spent ten years as an...
Content type: Oral History Item
A lifelong resident's memories of growing up in Coney Island's Gravesend Houses and Kaiser Park
Born and raised in Coney Island, Maria Navarro says her family came here from Morovis, Puerto Rico in 1957 and lived on West 36th, 27th, 21st, 28th and 29th Streets before settling in Gravesend Houses in 1970.  "Everybody knows each other," says...
Content type: Oral History Item
Brooklynite who posed for a now iconic 1950's NY Daily News pin-up photo on Coney Island Beach
In 1954, Lois McLohon posed for a Daily News photographer as a bathing beauty against the backdrop of Coney Island beach and its famous skyline.  When the photo appeared as a "cheesecake photo" in the paper's centerfold,  she and her friends thought...
Content type: Oral History Item
Brooklyn-born playwright on her plays set in Coney Island and a marriage proposal on the beach
Brooklyn born and based playwright Gina Femia has written 32 full-length plays, including three set in various locations in Coney Island, from the playgrounds of the projects to the Wonder Wheel. Among them are The Mermaids' Parade (2015-2016) and...
Content type: Oral History Item
President of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club for the past 12 years and a member since the 1980s
Dennis Thomas, the president of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club for the past 12 years, shares memories of his first swim with the club - "That's crazy, I want to do it!"- and feeling drawn to the desolate yet haunting atmosphere of Coney Island in...
Content type: Oral History Item