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[Last name, First name], Oral history interview conducted by [Interviewer’s First name Last name], [Month DD, YYYY], [Title of Collection], [Call #]; Brooklyn Historical Society.
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Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan
May 15, 2008
Call number: 2008.030.50
Oral History Interview with Robert Walsh
Robert Walsh was born in 1959, one of seven children in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn. After an early childhood in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn, Walsh moved with his family to the small Upstate town of Amenia, in New York's Dutchess County. Walsh returned to New York City to attend Fordham University, where he received a bachelor's degree in political science and a Master's of Public Affairs, and began a career in public service. He worked in New York City mayor Ed Koch's administration from 1981 to 1989, which he left to lead the Union Square Partnership, a public-private business improvement collaboration credited for revitalizing the neighborhood. At the time of the interview, Walsh was the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), a position he took on in January 2002 and left in 2013. During his tenure, the SBS provided services for New York City's 220,000 small businesses.
In this interview, Robert Walsh, then-Commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), discusses his personal history as a resident of Brooklyn and civil servant, noting biographer Jack Newfield's memoir of Robert Kennedy as particularly influential in Walsh's own life. He notes collaborative projects of the SBS and Restoration. Walsh notes past work experiences that prepared him for work in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, including his time leading the Union Square Partnership; and cites 2008-era evidence of revitalization, and says his role is to encourage entrepreneurship and public-private cooperation. He reflects on the sometimes tense relationship between urban renewal, gentrification, displacement, and affordable housing. Walsh discusses a number of public-sector vehicles for neighborhood improvement, including new market tax credits, subsidies, and capital investment. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.
Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) and Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration) partnered on the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral history project in 2007-2008 to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Restoration's founding as the first community development corporation (CDC) in the United States. Nearly sixty interviews were conducted with founding Board members, supporters, activists, artists, tenants, and other community members. Audio clips from these oral history interviews were included in the exhibit "Reflections on Community Development: Stories from Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation" (BHS 2008, Restoration 2009).
CitationWalsh, Robert, Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan, May 15, 2008, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral histories, 2008.030.50; Brooklyn Historical Society.
- Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
- Kennedy, Robert F., 1925-1968
- New York (N.Y.). Department of Small Business Services
- Walsh, Robert W.
- Affordable housing
- Community development corporations
- Cultural facilities
- Economic development
- Enterprise zones
- Social justice
- Urban renewal
- Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
- Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
Finding AidBedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral histories