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Guide to the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral histories 2008.030

Brooklyn Historical Society
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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Brett Dion and Maria Santiago

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 22, 2017
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Container List

Solano, Juan, 2008 May 15

Biographical / Historical

Juan Solano, born 1952, was the proprietor and optician at Solano Optical. Solano's first job out of high school was as a shipping clerk for a local optician. From age eighteen to age forty, Solano worked at a large variety of optical retailers, where he learned the business, eventually earning his bachelor's degree and becoming a licensed optician. At the age of forty-two, Solano and his wife took a second mortgage on their home, and used the money to open the first Solano Optical. At the time of the 2008 interview, Solano and his wife had recently purchased their own building, which included a storefront and residential rental property.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Juan Solano, owner of Solano Optical, reflects on his personal journey as an entrepreneur, which began with his first job as a shipping clerk at an optician's office and ended with the purchase of a mixed-use building which provided Solano a stable storefront, residential rental income, and a family home. At some points, Solano becomes emotional as he describes his experiences, including ups and downs such as the loss of five different stores due to rising rents, non-renewed leases, and recession. Solano describes the United States healthcare system as broken, citing the managed care system as a chief example. He speaks at length about his own lenses, which are transition bifocals. Solano voices his experiences with major crime: scuffles with illegal vendors of counterfeit and stolen goods; being victimized by gang activity; and suffering an armed robbery. Near the interview's end, Solano discusses the perks of membership in the Fulton-Nostrand United Merchants Association and other forms of leadership in the local business community. In the final minutes, Solano intolerantly refers to the nearby Hasidic Jewish community. Interview conducted by Bahati Williams.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting

Subject Names

  • Solano, Juan

Subject Organizations

  • Fulton-Nostrand United Merchants Association
  • Solano Optical Boutique Ltd

Subject Topics

  • Bankruptcy -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Enterprise -ones -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Entrepreneurship -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Medical care -- United States
  • Storefronts -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.) |x Social conditions