20 episodes

Coney Island Stories is a podcast produced from oral histories in the Coney Island History Project archive. We record interviews in English, Russian, Chinese, Spanish and other languages with people who have lived or worked in Coney Island and adjacent neighborhoods or have a special connection to these places. Founded in 2004, the History Project is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that aims to increase awareness of Coney Island's legendary and colorful past and to encourage appreciation of the Coney Island neighborhood of today. You can search and listen online to over 375 oral history interviews in our archive: https://www.coneyislandhistory.org/oral-history-archive

Coney Island Stories Charles Denson, Coney Island History Project

    • History
    • 5.0 • 11 Ratings

Coney Island Stories is a podcast produced from oral histories in the Coney Island History Project archive. We record interviews in English, Russian, Chinese, Spanish and other languages with people who have lived or worked in Coney Island and adjacent neighborhoods or have a special connection to these places. Founded in 2004, the History Project is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that aims to increase awareness of Coney Island's legendary and colorful past and to encourage appreciation of the Coney Island neighborhood of today. You can search and listen online to over 375 oral history interviews in our archive: https://www.coneyislandhistory.org/oral-history-archive

    Growing Up in the 2000s

    Growing Up in the 2000s

    Season Two’s theme is “Growing Up in Coney Island” through the decades, from the 1930s to the 21st century. In Episode Eight, the final episode of this season, we’re sharing the stories of narrators who grew up in Coney Island or came here from nearby neighborhoods, in the first decade of the 2000s.
    The new millennium began with the opening of a thirty million dollar ballpark for a Mets farm team on the site of Steeplechase Park. A contest was held to name the new team and the Brooklyn Cyclones was the winning name. Whenever the Cyclones won a home game, Astroland’s Cyclone roller coaster enjoyed a surge of business.
    Soon after Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office in 2002, he set his sights on Coney Island. He envisioned world-class attractions and hotels surrounded by high-rise residential development on vacant amusement land. A year later, the city formed the Coney Island Development Corporation to devise what was called “the Coney Island Strategic Plan.” The objective was to make Coney Island into a year-round recreational oceanfront destination by rezoning it. The ensuing zoning battle kept Coney in the headlines for the next six years, as speculators bought and sold land, and preservationists and stakeholders offered alternative visions for the future of the “People’s Playground.”
    The oral histories in Episode Seven are with Ahmed Hussain, Abby Jordan, Bonnie Kong, Candi Rafael, and Eric Sanchez. The interviews were conducted by Kaara Baptiste, Allison Corbett, Amanda Deutch, Samira Tazari, and Lauren Vespoli between 2015 and 2022. This episode was produced by Charles Denson, Ali Lemer and Tricia Vita. Music by Blue Dot Sessions.
    ©2022 The Coney Island History Project. All Rights Reserved. This program is sponsored in part by an Action Grant from Humanities New York with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

    • 31 min
    Growing Up in the 1990s

    Growing Up in the 1990s

    Season Two’s theme is “Growing Up in Coney Island” through the decades, from the 1930s to the 21st century. In Episode Seven, narrators who grew up here in the 1990s share stories of loss and change. They remember living in Gravesend Houses and Sea Rise apartments as well as on West 5th, West 8th and West 19th Streets. The Boardwalk, the Beach, Astroland, the Cyclone Roller Coaster and the Wonder Wheel were their playgrounds.
    The decade began with the Cyclone winning a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991. The same year, a fire gutted the wooden house under Coney’s other surviving roller coaster from the 1920s, the still standing but nonoperational Thunderbolt. The house was known to film lovers as Woody Allen’s boyhood home in the movie Annie Hall, but it was originally built as the Kensington Hotel in the late 1800s. It was the last remaining structure from Coney’s original waterfront, since the shoreline at that time was much farther inland than it is now. The 1925 coaster was caught between an owner who neglected it, and City officials who considered it an eyesore. Some viewed the Thunderbolt as a symbol of Coney’s decline, but to many, it served as a monument to survival.
    The oral histories in Episode Seven are with Tiana Camacho, Emmanuel Elpenord, Theresa Giovinni, Allen James, and Marina Rubin The interviews were conducted by Amanda Deutch, Katya Kumkova, Ali Lemer, Samira Tazari, and Tricia Vita between 2014 and 2020. This episode was produced by Charles Denson, Ali Lemer and Tricia Vita. Music by Blue Dot Sessions.
    This program is sponsored in part by an Action Grant from Humanities New York with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

    • 30 min
    Growing Up in the 1980s

    Growing Up in the 1980s

    Season Two’s theme is “Growing Up in Coney Island” through the decades, from the 1930s to the 21st century. In Episode Six, Narrators who grew up here in the 1980s, or grew up coming to Coney Island from nearby neighborhoods, share their stories. They remember living in Gravesend Houses and O’Dwyer Gardens, high-rises overseen by the New York City Housing Authority, as well as apartments on West 19th Street and in Brightwater Towers.  Astroland Park, Fabers Fascination Arcade, and Ruby’s Bar and Grill were their playgrounds.
    Coney Island during the 1980s is best symbolized by Greek immigrant Denos Vourderis’s purchase of the 1920 Wonder Wheel, the amusement area’s oldest continuously operating ride and the founding of Deno's Wonder Wheel Park. Another ray of hope in 1980’s Coney Island was the Astella Development Corporation’s plan to build low-rise attached homes on vacant lots slated for high-rise projects that were abandoned when the city went broke in the 1970s. Astella developed or renovated nearly one thousand single-family, owner-occupied homes on city-owned land in the 1980s.
    The oral histories in Episode Six are with Alito Hernandez, Shavon Meyers, Zohra Saed, Eric Safyan, and Jeffrey L. Wilson. The interviews were conducted by Kaara Baptiste, Charles Denson, Leila Goldstein, and Tricia Vita between 2017 and 2021. This episode was produced by Charles Denson, Ali Lemer and Tricia Vita. Music by Blue Dot Sessions.
    ©2022 The Coney Island History Project. All Rights Reserved. This program is sponsored in part by an Action Grant from Humanities New York with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

    • 34 min
    Growing Up in the 1970s

    Growing Up in the 1970s

    Season Two’s theme is “Growing Up in Coney Island” through the decades, from the 1930s to the 21st century. In Episode Five, Coney Islanders who grew up in the 1970s share memories of being the original tenants of Carey Gardens and O’Dwyer Gardens, newly built high-rise developments overseen by the New York City Housing Authority. They remember the razing of entire blocks in the West End during urban renewal, pervasive crime affecting their lives, and gangs like the Homicides and Seven Immortals inspiring the movie The Warriors. By mid-decade, New York City went broke and abandoned Coney Island. The one bright spot in the 1970s was Astroland amusement park’s two million dollar investment in new rides and sponsorship of air shows with the Army Golden Knights and the Air Force Thunderbirds.
    The oral histories in Episode Five are with Karen Dawn Blondel, Mindy Gress, Orlando Mendez, Gene Ritter, Keith Suber, and Eliot Wofse. The interviews were conducted by Charles Denson, Amanda Deutch, Katya Kumkova, Mark Markov, and Tricia Vita between 2016 and 2022.. This episode was produced by Charles Denson, Ali Lemer and Tricia Vita. Music by Blue Dot Sessions.
    ©2022 The Coney Island History Project. All Rights Reserved. This program is sponsored in part by an Action Grant from Humanities New York with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

    • 38 min
    Growing Up in the 1960s

    Growing Up in the 1960s

    Season Two’s theme is “Growing Up in Coney Island” through the decades, from the 1930s to the 21st century. In Episode Four, Coney Islanders who grew up in the 1960s share memories of being the original tenants at Luna Park Houses and Trump Village, high rise co-ops that opened in the 1960s. They remember the last years of Steeplechase Park, a rising crime rate and urban renewal. In 1967, Mayor Lindsay declared the entire West End of Coney Island a poverty zone. More than 40 blocks were slated for condemnation.  The one bright spot during the 1960s was the space age-themed Astroland Park. The park became the anchor for Coney Island, the glue that held it together while many businesses gave up and many property owners sold and moved away.
    The oral histories in Episode Four are with Alison Cintorrino, Alan Kirschenbaum, Jim Lucarelli, the Salvia sisters, Gladys Sandman and Lucille DaCosta, and Tony Williams. The interviews were conducted by Amanda Deutch, Ali Lemer, Shavon Meyers, and Tricia Vita between 2016 and 2022. This episode was produced by Charles Denson, Ali Lemer and Tricia Vita. Music by Blue Dot Sessions.
    ©2022 The Coney Island History Project. All Rights Reserved. This program is sponsored in part by an Action Grant from Humanities New York with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
     

    • 34 min
    Growing Up in the 1950s

    Growing Up in the 1950s

    Season Two’s theme is “Growing Up in Coney Island” through the decades, from the 1930s to the 21st century. In Episode Three, Coney Islanders who grew up in the ‘50s lived in apartments and over stores on Mermaid Avenue and its side streets. More than a thousand families were able to move into the two brand-new city-owned projects, Gravesend Houses and Coney Island Houses. Others made do with seasonal bungalows and rooming houses as year-round homes. World-famous Steeplechase Park was their neighborhood playground and television was a popular new indoor pastime.

    The oral histories in Episode Three are with Susan Petersen Avitzour, Barbara Unterman Jones, Sheldon Krimsky, David Louie, Johanna Gargiulo Sherman, and Ronald Stewart. The interviews were conducted by Charles Denson, Leila Goldstein, Samira Tazari, and Tricia Vita between 2007 and 2021.This episode was produced by Charles Denson, Ali Lemer and Tricia Vita. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. 

    ©2022 The Coney Island History Project. All Rights Reserved. This program is sponsored in part by an Action Grant from Humanities New York with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

    • 31 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
11 Ratings

11 Ratings

B_Mange ,

Great way to take in multiple oral histories at once

I’ve been a fan of the Coney Island History Project’s oral histories on their website for a while now but I’m so happy that there’s finally a version I can download and listen to away from home. Episodes are usually a combination of edited oral histories with added introductions and narration that concern a specific theme. The production is great and I’m happy that there’s finally a podcast version of these!

JimTurner ,

Excellent oral history project by the Coney Island historical society

Wow make sure you listen to this oral history project! Thank you, this is great.

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