Coney Island Hall of Fame and 6th Annual History Day Coming Up This August

By: Jul. 27, 2016
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.

Existing user? Just click login.

Celebrate historic Coney Island at the 6th Annual History Day at Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, Coney Island's oldest amusement park, and the Coney Island History Project. The free event will be held from 1:00 -6:00 PM on Sunday, August 7.

At 2:00 PM, Charles Denson, historian and director of the Coney Island History Project, will present the 2016 Coney Island Hall of Fame Induction. The ceremony will take place at the Dreamland Plaza Stage on West 12th Street at the Boardwalk.

The Hall of Fame honors architectural wonders as well as historical figures who were pioneers and visionaries whose creativity and ingenuity helped shape and define Coney Island.

A plaque honoring Astroland Park's Carol Hill Albert and the late Jerry Albert, who founded the Coney Island History Project and the Coney Island Hall of Fame, which was originally along West 10th Street, will also be dedicated on History Day.

This year's Hall of Fame honorees in the architecture category are the landmark 1920 Wonder Wheel and the Riegelmann Boardwalk, which opened in 1923 and is under consideration for Scenic Landmark designation by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Also being honored is Gargiulo's Restaurant, which opened in 1907, making it the oldest restaurant in Coney Island. The Russo brothers bought the business from the Gargiulo family in 1965 and have continued the fine Neapolitan tradition.

The Coney Island Hall of Fame will also pay tribute to a group of historical figures who were an important and creative part of Coney Island that has completely disappeared. We call them "The Wizards of 8th Street."

"Few people realize that for nearly a century Coney Island's West 8th Street, between Surf Avenue and Neptune Avenue, served as the amusement manufacturing capital of the world," said historian and Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson. "This small stretch of West 8th Street was the home to the Illions Carousel factory, the Mangels amusement factory, and Pinto Brothers amusement factory as well as the Bonomo candy factory. Supporting roles were played by an assortment of independent tinsmiths, wood carvers, sign painters and banner painters, blacksmiths, electricians, welders, carpenters, machine shops, restaurant supply stores, and a lumberyard."

Joining the Coney Island Hall of Fame ceremony will be descendants of the Pinto brothers, the Kargman brothers, William F. Mangels, the Rea family, the Peluso family, and Bonsignore family, all of whom worked or lived on West 8th Street. Visit the Coney Island History Project's website for additional details on this year's honorees.

The following activities are free on History Day, from 1:00 PM - 6:00 PM (along West 12th Street from the Coney Island History Project to the Boardwalk):

- A display of kiosks emblazoned with colorful banners of past Coney Island Hall of Fame honorees including George C. Tilyou, founder of Steeplechase Park; DR. Martin Couney, inventor of the baby incubator; Marcus C. Illions, developer of the Coney Island style of carousel carving; and Lady Deborah Moody, who founded the town of Gravesend in 1645, becoming the first female landowner in the new world.

- David Head will sign copies of his book on African-American inventor Granville T. Woods (1856-1910), who was inducted into the Coney Island Hall of Fame in 2008. Among Woods' patents was one for the world's first electric roller coaster, which was located in Coney Island a century ago. Mr. Head, former chairman of the Black History Committee for TWU Local 100, was instrumental in having a Coney Island street across from Stillwell Avenue Terminal renamed "Granville T. Woods Way."

- Amanda Deutch, poet and founder of Parachute Literary Arts, will have a Poetry Making Station featuring vintage typewriters. Letterpress posters with Walt Whitman and Muriel Rukeyser's Coney Island poems will be for sale. Parachute is a community-based literary organization in Coney Island that creates site specific readings, writing workshops and poetry libraries.

- Commendatore Aldo Mancusi, founder of the Enrico Caruso Museum of America, will play his hand-cranked band organ. Mr. Mancusi is a member of the Carousel Organ Association of America (COAA) and Automatic Musical Instrument Collectors Association (AMICA). Crank a tune and receive a certificate commemorating History Day! DJ Dan Kingman will play retro tunes and lead singalongs throughout the day.

- Keep an eye out for our stilt walker for free balloons and salt water taffy while supplies last. Deno's Wonder Wheel Park and the Coney Island History Project

- Dress in 1920s garb and get one Free Ride on the Wonder Wheel! The Wonder Wheel opens at 12:00 PM.

- Walk inside the iconic 1960s Astroland Rocket, which returned to Coney Island in 2014 and has a new home beside the Wonder Wheel. Adjacent to the Rocket, see a special display of historic figures and signage from the park's classic 1955 Spook-A-Rama dark ride.

- At the Coney Island History Project, share and preserve your Coney Island memories by recording an interview for our Oral History Archive. View historic artifacts, photographs, maps, ephemera and film, and the special exhibit "The 50th Anniversary of Fred Trump's Demolition of the Steeplechase Pavilion."

- Take free souvenir photos with old-timey cutouts at Deno's Wonder Wheel Park and with the Coney Island History Project's "Skully" from Coney's Spookhouse and an original Steeplechase horse from the legendary ride that gave Steeplechase Park its name.

Deno's Wonder Wheel Park and the Coney Island History Project are located at 3059 West 12th Street, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY 11224. D, F, N or Q train to Stillwell Terminal. Phone: 347-702-8553 (Coney Island History Project). Phone: 718-372-2592 (Deno's Wonder Wheel Park). For more information, visit or go to