The Coney Island History Project’s 2023 exhibition center season begins Memorial Day Weekend with a combination of free indoor and outdoor exhibits. This year’s special exhibition is The Riegelmann Boardwalk: Past, Present, and Future. This fascinating exhibit tells the story of how the Coney Island Boardwalk came into being, how it was constructed, and how it changed Coney Island forever by opening the shoreline to the public. Historic photographs and maps will illustrate the innovative construction techniques that were used for the first time to create Coney Island’s new “Main Street” one hundred years ago in 1923. A century of memorable photographs will be on display.
In addition, visitors to the exhibition center are invited to take free souvenir photos with Coney Island’s only original Steeplechase horse, from the legendary ride that gave Steeplechase Park its name, and the iconic Cyclops head from Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park’s Spook-A-Rama, Coney Island’s oldest dark ride. Among the treasures on display at the Coney Island History Project’s exhibit center this season is Coney Island’s oldest surviving artifact from the dawn of the “World’s Playground.” The 1823 Toll House sign dates back to the days when the toll for a horse and rider to “the Island” was 5 cents! Today, the nearly two century old sign is often described as Coney Island’s “first admission ticket.”
The Coney Island History Project exhibition center is located on West 12th Street at the entrance to Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, just a few steps off the Boardwalk. View historic artifacts, photographs, maps, ephemera and films of Coney Island’s colorful past. The History Project is open weekends and holidays from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day from 1-7pm. Admission is free of charge.
2023 Exhibition Center Season Hours
Open from May 27 – September 4, 2023 – Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays, 1pm-7pm
Also open May 29, 2023 – Memorial Day (Monday), 1pm-7pm
Also open June 19, 2023 – Juneteenth observed (Monday), 1pm-7pm
Also open July 4th, 2023 – (Tuesday), 1pm-7pm
Also open September 4, 2023 – Labor Day (Monday), 1pm-7pm
We encourage you to browse the Coney Island History Project’s website, which in addition to our multilingual Oral History Archive includes our podcast Coney Island Stories, the blog Ask Mr. Coney Island, selections from our Collection, and Coney News and Events for info on special events and walking tours. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to learn about Coney Island’s legendary and colorful past and the Coney Island community of today.
Exhibits at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park
The Coney Island History Project’s free outdoor banner exhibits have returned to Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park for the 2023 season. The banners will be on view from April 22nd through the end of October during park hours.
The Wonder Wheel and the Immigrant Dream tells the remarkable story of the Wonder Wheel and the family that operates Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. The colorful history banners are located on the Wheel’s walkway adjacent to the History Project, as well as below Deno’s Phoenix Roller Coaster.
An installation of history panels in front of the Astroland Moon Rocket is located in the lower park, across from the Bumper Cars and adjacent to the Wonder Wheel. Installed in 2022, this permanent exhibit honors Coney’s space-age attraction that debuted at the dawn of the space race in 1962 and the 60th anniversary of the opening of Astroland Park.
Admission to Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park is free. The Wonder Wheel opens at 12:00 PM on weekends and holidays in the spring and daily during the summer months. Hours of operation are subject to change depending on weather conditions.
Since the Coney Island History Project’s inception in 2004 with a portable recording booth on the Boardwalk, followed by the opening of the Coney Island Hall of Fame in 2005 and the inaugural season of our exhibition center under the Cyclone in 2007, we have proudly offered “Free Admission for One and All!” at our exhibits and special events.
In 2011, the History Project continued that tradition when we moved from the Cyclone to our new exhibition center in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. We are grateful to the Vourderis family for inviting us to set up history exhibits in locations around their park, and to the Albert family for their ongoing support as the History Project continues its mission of recording oral histories with people who have lived, worked, and played in Coney Island.
The Coney Island History Project was founded in 2004 by Carol Hill Albert and Jerome Albert in honor of Dewey Albert, creator of Astroland Park. Executive director Charles Denson is a Coney Island native, a noted historian, and the author of the award-winning book Coney Island: Lost and Found. The History Project is supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council; Humanities New York with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities via the federal American Rescue Plan Act; the Museum Association of New York; the New York State Council on the Arts; and our members and contributors.