The New York City Marathon is not for everybody. So instead of running 26 miles to raise money for a good cause, why not eat at 26 food carts?
We are kicking off a new fundraising campaign to support our friends at the Street Vendor Project and the thousands of vendors that keep NYC running. Register to participate in a citywide scavenger hunt to find the best street food and uncover stories behind the people and businesses of the vendor community. As you roam the city completing (and eating) the challenges, you can encourage others to pledge to the Street Vendor Project on your behalf, and prizes will be awarded for reaching both scavenger hunt and fundraising goals.
In 1835, Naples-born painter Nicolino Calyo arrived in New York, and over the next 20 years, he produced a body of work that captured both the grandeur and minutia of city life. An experienced landscape painter, one of his first works was also one of the grandest—a series of paintings of the great fire of December 16–17, 1835, which would build his fame in America and lead to a number of touring exhibitions, including large-scale panoramas, a popular entertainment of the era. He also produced over 100 paintings of street vendors, and invaluable catalogue of the sidewalk economy of 1840s New York. In this virtual program, we will discuss Calyo’s life and career, and examine some of his most notable works, large and small.
Food carts are an iconic image of New York City that most New Yorkers pass every day. Even if they stop to enjoy their food, not many take in the beauty and visual appeal of food carts – that’s why photographer Maxwell Schiano published a 64-page zine of his photography celebrating these icons, New York City Vibe, Volume One. In this conversation, we will learn about his process and check out his stunning photos that reveal so many wonderful details about these carts and the people working inside them. We will also be joined by Carina Kauffman-Gutierrez, deputy director of the Street Vendor Project, who will update us on the current challenges vendors face in New York City.
Take a virtual walk through Manhattan’s Financial District and learn about some of the food carts and food trucks that serve this neighborhood. We will check out some of our favorite spots, and talk to vendors about their food, how their businesses have fared during the pandemic, and how they are managing as the city reopens. We wish we could pass out tastings with everyone, but we will share the spots that we visit to check out on your own.
April 6 marks the 104th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I, but the impacts of this global conflict were already being felt in New York City. Starting in 1914, panicked markets, inefficient infrastructure, and marauding U-boats caused price shocks and shortages, and the war led directly to the creation of new modes of food distribution, leading to the creation of New York City’s wholesale and retail public market system that still exists today. In this program, we will examine reports from the time period by the city and state Departments and Markets about how new open-air markets were stood up, pushcart peddlers were mobilized to bring food to neighborhoods, and the public was educated to conserve scarce or strategically valuable ingredients.
We are teaming up with our friend and renowned pizza expert Scott Wiener from Scott’s Pizza Tours to explore the world of mobile pizza and discuss the history and culture of pizza on the street with some special guests. We will be joined by Ernie Wong of Shanghai Mobile Kitchen Solutions, one of the city’s leading fabricators of food carts and trucks, who will teach us about what goes into building and operating a pizza oven on wheels in New York City.
You may have seen people collecting cans and bottles, dependent upon the few cent deposit for their livelihood. For the past 10 years, Sure We Can has provided a sustainable and safe space for this community to thrive. The non-profit organization is not only a recycling center, but also an art space, community center, garden, composting facility, and a place for the local community to learn about sustainability. Join us as we chat with executive director Ryan Castalia and take a virtual tour through this incredible facility in Brooklyn, where we may even get to meet a canner or two to hear their stories.
Due to the precarious nature of their business, New York City street vendors’ livelihoods are dependent on knowing and exercising their rights. In this virtual program, we will look at examples that illustrate how vendors navigate the city’s legal and regulatory environment, including the complex permitting process. We also examine how street vendors have engaged, historically and today, with the political process through collective action and advocacy, and explore how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting vendors and the industry as a whole in the current moment. We will joined by Matt Shapiro, legal director of the Street Vendor Project, who will share insights on the permitting system, as well legislation before the City Council to reform the vending system, Intro 1116.
Street vending has been a part of New York City’s public life for hundreds of years, often taken up by newcomers to the country and New Yorkers excluded from the formal economy, as a means of starting a small business. For this special virtual program, Cindy VandenBosch and Andrew Gustafson will explore street vending history from the 19th century to today and examine how the city’s physical, culinary, artistic, and legal landscape has been shaped by vendors. We’ll also be joined for a special visit from street vendor MD Alam, calling in from his food cart Royal Grill Halal Food to share with us how his business has survived during COVID-19.
This program is fundraiser for the non-profit Street Vendor Project, a project of the Urban Justice Center, and is not part of our ongoing Virtual Program series or included in our Membership program
The Vendy Awards were an annual celebration of the best street vendors in New York City hosted by the Street Vendor Project, a project of the Urban Justice Center. It was by far our favorite day of the year, full of food, friends, and a celebration of the vibrant vendor community. After 15 years, the Vendy Awards took its last bow in 2019. To look back on the previous ten years, our resident foodie Brian Hoffman will reminisce with Matt Shapiro, the Legal Director at the Street Vendor Project, about the winners, the food, and the evolution of the local street food scene during that time.