Lonely Planet Writer

Follow the story of NYC’s Chinatown with these colourful street signs

A series of vibrant, eye-catching illustrated street signs have been unveiled in Chinatown in New York City that tells visitors the story of the people of the area, creating a dynamic walking tour through the diverse, bustling neighbourhood.

Visitors can follow 47 pieces of street art across Chinatown to discover the story of the neighbourhood. Image by Department of Transportation New York

Called “Welcome to Chinatown – Chinatown Walk”, the series was created by illustrator Dingding Hu, following a commission by the New York City Department of Transportation’s Art and Urban Design team in partnership with the Museum of Chinese in America. The artwork can be found throughout Chinatown, and includes one large vinyl piece that has been installed on the Chinatown Kiosk at Canal Street and Walker Street, 45 aluminium signs on streetlight poles and two mesh banner wraps on chain-link fencing underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. Together, the pieces highlight the seven gateways into Chinatown, and present observations on the people living in and visiting the neighbourhood.

The larger piece on the Chinatown Kiosk. Image by Department of Transportation New York

“I walked around Chinatown to get familiar with the neighbourhood and took photos for drawing and research references. After that I went back to my studio and organized the photos to try to find interesting spots, as well as read articles online about popular places to visit and fun facts about the neighbourhood. I think deep inside, I have a partially journalist soul, and this project really fulfilled that part of my talent. Because it is close to a documentary series, it was really satisfying for me to hear the response from the local community, the interaction was fascinating to me,” Dingding Hu told Lonely Planet Travel News

One of the street signs depicting a dragon dance. Image by Department of Transportation New York

The colourful illustrations are set to be left in place for the next ten months, and include scenes of people enjoying all manner of food, playing in local parks, as well as depicting traditional dragon dances, New York City traffic, busy shops, and people enjoying sunny days on park benches.

The signs will be up for the next ten months. Image by Department of Transportation New York

More of Dingding Hu’s work is available at her official website.