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Diversity, Hybridity, and Coexistence

The Knowledge Map

With thousands of hot dog carts, halal food carts, and ice cream trucks, New York City dwellers have gotten used to eating on-the-go. Street carts have been banned and revived. They have been serving hot dogs and pretzels to hungry and hurrying New Yorkers for centuries, even before this city was called New York. It’s nothing new.

Street carts are a strong visual representation of the cultural diversity and hybridity of New York City. Food carts can be found on countless blocks of the city. Classic hot dog pushcart on the sidewalk, capped with the red-and-yellow umbrella, have become one of the most iconic scenes of New York City. Nowadays, carts not only sell hot dogs and pretzel, but also other various dishes that immigrants have brought to the street. A new trend of street vending is to add unconventional ingredients to street food.

Coexistence is the most New York concept of all. Street vending breaks the hierarchy of street life. This public activity attracts both locals and tourists, mixes social classes, and changes the pattern of urban life. All kinds of people would line up for a platter or to grab a roll at the park.

Food carts have created a striking image in the city landscape. Although the carts are not nicely designed, the bizarre way they are constructed in is almost a modern art form.

Beginning with deconstruction of the behavior of street vending and eating curbside, this project identifies the “vocabulary” of this language, in terms of verbal, written, visual and acoustic language. Furthermore, an experimental form of using the vocabulary is presented. This project is also informative in ways of exploring the historical and cultural context of street vending, providing classification of vendors and cuisines, and introducing several of the most welcomed trucks. Eventually it encourages practice and engagement in this language.

By identifying and presenting the language of street food, this project aims to help people enjoy the vital street life of New York City.

The Catalog
In contrast to the complex system of the knowledge map, the catalog stores the deconstructed pieces of the language and breaks the hierarchy furthermore by constructing new dishes combining ingredients that don’t belong together in one cart. Mixing and matching ingredients from different carts presents the concept of diversity, hybridity, and coexistence.