Print / View Finding Aid as Single Page

Brooklyn Historical Society logo

Guide to the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral histories 2008.030

Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn 11201

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

Walsh, Robert, 2008 May 15

Biographical / Historical

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.

Scope and Contents

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.

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

  • Kennedy, Robert F.
  • Walsh, Robert W.

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • New York (N.Y.). Department of Small Business Services

Subject Topics

  • Affordable housing
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Cultural facilities -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Economic development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Enterprise -ones -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Entrepreneurship -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Social justice -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Urban renewal -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)