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CALL/WALKS/Chinatown - Mapping Food Systems

  • Grand Street Station 258 Grand St New York, NY, 10002 United States (map)

Led by urbanist Stephen Fan & economic botanist Valerie Imbruce, Mapping Food Systems will take participants on a walk through Chinatown’s unique food markets.

This walk will be held twice, between 11:30-1:00pm and between 1:00-2:30pm.

Chinatown features a robust food system in which farms growing specialty fruits and vegetables are integrated with street level sidewalk vendors and shops by wholesale brokers. Our walk will highlight what's resilient and vulnerable to the way that food provisioning works in Chinatown as we address the central question, how has the Chinatown food system shaped agricultural and urban development?  The walk with start at the subway entrance at Chrystie and Grand St, head towards Mott to follow that street to end at Canal and Mulberry Street. We will observe what foods are being sold and how as we imagine this particular use of urban space and where it's foods come from against images of others.


Stephen Fan is an urbanist based in New York City. He has been a guest curator at the Museum of Chinese in America, an adjunct assistant professor of architecture, and a fellow at the Institute for Public Architecture. Stephen is the editor of SubUrbanisms: Casino Urbanization, Chinatowns, and the Contested American Landscape (Lyman Allyn Museum Press 2014), which highlights some of the alternative food systems of suburban Chinese immigrants in the United States. Raised by immigrant parents who own a Chinese-American restaurant in Connecticut, he has firsthand experience with the alternative food suppliers of regional Chinese restaurants.


Valerie Imbruce is an economic botanist whose research and teaching focuses on food systems, environmental studies and science education. Her work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, and she has served as an agricultural development consultant internationally. She is the author of From Farm to Canal Street: Chinatown’s Alternative Food Network in the Global Marketplace (Cornell University Press, 2015). Valerie is Director of the Undergraduate Research Center and Office of External Scholarships and a Research Associate of Environmental Studies at Binghamton University, where she specializes in the design of collaborative, transdisciplinary research and educational programs.

Accessibility: The route for this walk will be entirely held on public streets and sidewalks of Chinatown. Because this area is mainly comprised of market stalls and street vendors, open sidewalk area may be narrow at points, and because the walk is being held on a Saturday afternoon the streets are likely to be crowded. The closest accessible subway station is Broadway Lafayette. The M103 bus stops at Bowery & Grand Street, one block from the meeting point.