Coney Island Stories

The Coney Island History Project Oral History Podcast


Season 1 Episode 4: Immigrant Stories of Mermaid Avenue

Show Notes

This episode of Coney Island Stories features the stories of Mermaid Avenue’s mom and pop businesses founded by immigrants, past and present. Please scroll down for earlier episodes.

Interviews with Steven Feinstein, (Wilensky Hardware), Charles Guariglia (Mermaid Avenue bread route in the 1950's and '60s), Ho Cheung Li (J&R Pharmacy), and Boris Kotlyar (Mermaid Spa) are part of the Coney Island History Project Oral History Archive. Wilensky Hardware, Coney Island’s oldest surviving family-owned business, was founded 100 years ago on Mermaid Avenue by a Polish immigrant. Businesses founded in the 1990’s-2000’s whose owners’ oral histories were selected for this episode are pharmacist Ho Cheung Li, who dispenses news and advice to the community’s Chinese immigrants, and Boris Kotlyar, who operates a banya, an authentic Russian bathhouse. The oral histories were conducted by Charles Denson, Mark Markov, and Samira Tazari between 2015-2020.

You can search and listen online to over 375 oral history interviews, including the ones featured in this podcast, at

Episode 4 was produced by Charles Denson, Ali Lemer and Tricia Vita. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Russian translations by Mark Markov and Julia Kanin. Voice overs by River Kanoff and Ali Lemer.

This program is part of the Cultural Immigrant Initiative supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York City Councilman Mark Treyger.

©2020 The Coney Island History Project. All Rights Reserved.

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