Skip to Content

Ronald Shiffman collection is open for research!

By Maggie Schreiner

Posted on April 10, 2019

The Ronald Shiffman collection on the Pratt Center for Community Development (2013.023) is now open for research at Brooklyn Historical Society!

The collection, comprising 75 linear feet of material spanning the years 1950 to 2018, includes meeting minutes, correspondence, project planning documents, proposals, oral history interviews and transcripts, reports, and publications. This collection is a rich source of material pertaining to community planning, housing programs and policies, community development corporations, and land use across New York City and the world. There is a wealth of material about Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Bedford-Stuyvesant, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, the Atlantic Yards, and Red Hook. The papers were processed with the support of the Pratt Institute.

Ronald Shiffman is a city planner, architect, and expert in community economic development and sustainable development assistance for community-based groups in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. In 1964, Shiffman co-founded Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development (known today as the Pratt Center for Community Development). The Pratt Center is now the nation’s largest public interest architectural, planning, and development office. Just one year after its founding, Shiffman, partnered with the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council and Senator Robert F. Kennedy in the conception and launch of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, the country’s first community development corporation.

IMG_5972

Herbert von King Park Neighborhood Study, Final Report, 1988; Ronald Shiffman collection on the Pratt Center for Community Development, 2013.023, Box 58, Folder 2; Brooklyn Historical Society.

The collection, comprising 75 linear feet of material spanning the years 1950 to 2018, includes meeting minutes, correspondence, project planning documents, proposals, oral history interviews and transcripts, reports, and publications. This collection is a rich source of material pertaining to community planning, housing programs and policies, community development corporations, and land use across New York City and the world. There is a wealth of material about Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Bedford-Stuyvesant, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, the Atlantic Yards, and Red Hook. The papers were processed with the support of the Pratt Institute.

Ronald Shiffman is a city planner, architect, and expert in community economic development and sustainable development assistance for community-based groups in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. In 1964, Shiffman co-founded Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development (known today as the Pratt Center for Community Development). The Pratt Center is now the nation’s largest public interest architectural, planning, and development office. Just one year after its founding, Shiffman, partnered with the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council and Senator Robert F. Kennedy in the conception and launch of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, the country’s first community development corporation.

Williamsburg 197a Waterfront Plan, 1998; Ronald Shiffman collection on the Pratt Center for Community Development, 2013.023, Box 6, Folder 12; Brooklyn Historical Society.

This collection documents the broad scope of Shiffman’s career from the 1960s to the present, and is a rich source of material pertaining to community-based planning, participatory and advocacy planning, self-help and sweat-equity, housing programs and policies, community development corporations, and land use, both throughout NYC, and to a more limited extent, in Europe, South Africa, and Chile. For researchers interested in neighborhood change and gentrification in New York City, this collection sheds light on a number of major redevelopment projects across the city, including Lower Manhattan and Chinatown after September 11th, the Greenpoint and Williamsburg waterfronts through two 197a plans, as well as the Gowanus Canal, the Atlantic Yards, and the expansion of Columbia University.

The materials also provide in-depth information on housing programs and policies in New York City; in particular, mutual housing and land trust projects such as Strycker’s Bay, Cooper Square, Midwood Friends, the Mutual Housing Association, and the United Tenants Association. Additionally, researchers can find a wealth of information about community development in Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Bedford-Stuyvesant, the waterfront, Crown Heights, and Greenpoint. The collection also includes the project files for “Building Hope: The Community Development Corporation Oral History Project.” Funded by the Ford Foundation, this project conducted interviews with leaders from nineteen community development corporations across the country. In addition to audio recordings and transcripts of many of the interviews, the collection includes project planning, financial, and outreach documentation.

To accompany the opening of this important collection, BHS staff have created a research guide on Neighborhood Change and Gentrification, which highlights related resources in the Othmer Library, including oral histories, maps, books, and redevelopment and revitalization plans. A guide to the Ronald Shiffman collection is available to researchers online via our finding aids portal. The Othmer Library is open Wednesday through Saturday, from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. To make an appointment to view the collection, please contact us at: [email protected]

Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation Restore Ball, 1970; Ronald Shiffman collection on the Pratt Center for Community Development, 2013.023, Box 48, Folder 11; Brooklyn Historical Society.

The materials also provide in-depth information on housing programs and policies in New York City; in particular, mutual housing and land trust projects such as Strycker’s Bay, Cooper Square, Midwood Friends, the Mutual Housing Association, and the United Tenants Association. Additionally, researchers can find a wealth of information about community development in Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Bedford-Stuyvesant, the waterfront, Crown Heights, and Greenpoint. The collection also includes the project files for “Building Hope: The Community Development Corporation Oral History Project.” Funded by the Ford Foundation, this project conducted interviews with leaders from nineteen community development corporations across the country. In addition to audio recordings and transcripts of many of the interviews, the collection includes project planning, financial, and outreach documentation.

To accompany the opening of this important collection, BHS staff have created a research guide on Neighborhood Change and Gentrification, which highlights related resources in the Othmer Library, including oral histories, maps, books, and redevelopment and revitalization plans. A guide to the Ronald Shiffman collection is available to researchers online via our finding aids portal. The Othmer Library is open Wednesday through Saturday, from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. To make an appointment to view the collection, please contact us at: [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked