The amalgamation of things that makes Chinatown, well Chinatown, are as diverse as the people who set out daily through its maze of streets, offerings and unique experiences. Beset amongst a backdrop of sales people hawking goods, classic tenement buildings, open air markets, restaurants and a dizzying array of visitors is one of New York’s most vibrant and sought after experiences. Chinatown, with no identifiable point of entry or exit morphs from NYC government enclave to high intensity commerce, to daily life rituals, to exotic cuisine to fashion accessories heaven. Its diversity of offerings is indicative of the vibrancy which calls upon so many to visit it daily.
The challenges that such an allure presents for Chinatown are several. How do visitors navigate its maze of streets and offerings? What is the legibility of Chinatown as an urban experience? How do visitors maintain a sense of awareness and comfort amidst what many perceive as organized chaos? To answer some of these questions UDD has assembled unique sets of data ranging from traffic, commerce types, pedestrian navigation, and visitor purpose amongst others. We then crunched the data to effectively understand that which makes Chinatown function and to understand its limits. The key findings provided not only a better understanding but also instruction for subtle yet strategic improvements to enhance visitor and resident experiences.
The process not only involved data crunching but also scenario planning using identifiable visitor and resident types. By identifying key traits and practices of the various types and their associated goals and desires patterns emerged that provided the building blocks of an improved user experience.
As an ongoing pilot project we welcome you to have a look at Phase 1 of The Chinatown Tourism File. We’d love for you to share your comments. Remember this is Phase 1 so stay tuned as the promise of Smart Chinatown continues to build.