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Posts Tagged ‘Charles Denson’

Coney Island History Project Collection

On the Beach, 1934. Coney Island History Project Collection

On Presidents Day, the Coney Island History Project and Urban Neighborhood Services are celebrating Black History Month with a slideshow of historic images and a panel discussion in Coney’s West End. Among the photos are this wonderful snapshot of “Tootsie, Blanche and Alma” on Coney Island beach in 1934. “The History of Coney Island’s West End and the Presence and Contributions of African Americans in Coney Island from the 1600s to the Present” will feature never-before-seen images from the archive of History Project director Charles Denson as well as photos that he took in the 1970s. The free event is on February 17 from 4-6pm at PS 329, 2929 West 30th Street in Coney Island.

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Steeplechase Pier Reopened

Steeplechase Pier reopened today with a wavy new lounger and other amenities. October 2, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson, Coney Island History Project via flickr

Coney Island’s Steeplechase Pier, which has been under construction since March, was inspected and reopened today to the delight of visitors enjoying the summery weather. The reopening happened without any official fanfare nearly a year after the pier was damaged during Superstorm Sandy. Today, the construction workers simply left for the last time and the sunbathers, fishermen and photographers returned to their usual spots and found some new ones, including the wave-shaped bench seen above. Among the first to set foot on the sleek new pier was the Coney Island History Project‘s Charles Denson, who shot these amazing photos.

Steeplechase Pier

View from newly reconstructed Steeplechase Pier, Coney Island. October 2, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson, Coney Island History Project via flickr

New amenities on the 1,000 foot long pier include a communal lounger made of wave-shaped wood and a variety of seating options. The wood on all the benches as well as the handrail wood is reclaimed ipe from the old decking that was on the pier. There’s also a shade structure with letters spelling out CONEY ISLAND that cast an elegant shadow on the pier and can be viewed from above by seagulls, helicopters and the gods of the air.

LTL Architects custom designed the benches as well as the overhead screens. Their redesign for the reconstruction of the pierwon Special Recognition at the 31st Annual Awards for Excellence in Design by the New York City Design Commission. Vibha Agarwala of LTR Architects told ATZ the construction is complete but there will be some final touches, including bait cutting stations. The work was carried out by T.B. Penick and their New York division Triton Structural. The construction company was awarded projects totaling $120 million for repairs to New York City’s Superstorm Sandy damaged beaches.

Steeplechase Pier

Coney Island’s Reconstructed Steeplechase Pier. October 2, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson, Coney Island History Project via flickr

Over the weekend, word on the Boardwalk was that Steeplechase Pier, which has been under reconstruction due to damage sustained last October during Superstorm Sandy, would reopen this week. The Parks Department confirmed the pier would open soon but did not announce a date. October 29, 2013 will be the anniversary of the storm surge that devastated Coney Island. Steeplechase Pier had to be completely reconstructed post-Sandy and was originally expected to be finished by July. The rebuilt pier and the landmarked Parachute Jump are the sole survivors of Coney Island’s Steeplechase Park, which closed in 1964.

Steeplechase Pier

Workers leaving as reconstructed Steeplechase Pier reopened today. October 2, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson, Coney Island History Project via flickr

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Cha Cha’s, “Home of Wild Women and Wise Guys” and “Live Entertainment for the Hole Family” is gone from the new Coney Island, but the video “Coney Island Poker Face” lives on! Shot in September 2010 by historian Charles Denson, the video features Cha Cha’s regular Frankie Oil dancing to Lady Gaga’s hit while his pal Johnny Corona cheers him on.

Try typing “Live Entertainment for the Hole family” and Google will ask — Did you mean: “Live entertainment for the whole family”?

Nope, we meant “Hole Family.” The charmingly idiosyncratic spelling on the sign is visible in Denson’s slow pan of the Boardwalk bar and cafe, which also takes in the floral wreath for Cha Cha’s longtime manager John Thomas, who had just died, and the lettering of the doomed Shoot the Freak next door. Was “The Hole Family” a painter’s typo? An inside joke like the sign’s enigmatic “Don’t Sleep”? It definitely caught people’s attention and became a conversation piece.

“HA HA HA! Classic.”— A Guy Walks into 365 Bars

Who is this “Hole Family” you speak of? -PJ Coleman via flickr

“Where else but Brooklyn would you see a sign that offered ‘Live Entertainment For The Hole family.’ Who’s the Hole family? Courtney Love and Frances Bean Cobain?” — MemoriesofBrooklyn.blogspot.com

ATZ uncovered clues to the identity of “the Hole Family” a few years ago, but amid the upheaval over Cha Cha’s Boardwalk bar losing its lease in 2011 and the move to Surf Avenue sans the original sign, we never had a chance to write about it. Cha Cha’s officially closed after SuperStorm Sandy.

Whole Darnd Family

Coney Island, The Whole Darnd Family. circa 1910. Bain News Service

“The Hole Family” is related to the Whole Darnd family, who are pictured visiting Coney Island with their monkeys in this vintage photo, which also happens to be part of the mosaic at the top of this blog. The Darnd family is a polite takeoff on the title of Edwin S Porter’s silent screen hit “The Whole Dam Family and the Family Dog” (1905).

According to one of the many comic postcards and lithos featuring the Dam family– Mr. I.B. Dam, Miss U.B Dam and their relatives — they were the most popular and widely known family in the United States on account of their unfortunate last name. “Too much notoriety” was rumored to have killed the Dam Family. The curious thing is that at 2:36, the animated letters spell out The Hole Dam Family before the last letter, the “W,” finally tumbles into place.

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