New York and Its Food Vendor Culture: A Photo Essay

Food carts, urban icons common around Lincoln Center, serve a variety of foods ranging from breakfast to falafels


Any New York City visitor will immediately notice the ever-present food carts dominating the streets. For many people, these carts offer affordable food options along their commute to and from work. For Fordham students specifically, the halal cart outside the Lowenstein entrance at the Lincoln Center campus, located adjacent to the Ram Van pickup/drop off on West 60th Street and Columbus Avenue, is a staple to both the intercampus journey and the Fordham experience. 

Many other carts located around Columbus Circle and the Lincoln Center area attract customers from all walks of life. While we might consider the “New York minute”  in relation to the speed of life, it can also be seen in transactions between food cart workers and their customers.

Said A., a street vendor employee operating one of the many Nathan’s Famous food trucks that occupy the Columbus Circle intersection, began working at the cart on Sept. 19. He has lived in New York for 13 years and shared that throughout his first week at the cart, work has been very slow. 

“Business is no good,” he said. “Very few people.”

As we sought to capture both the business and the stillness of the traffic that surrounds street vendors near Fordham Lincoln Center, we hoped to hone in on the expressions of the food service workers as well as their customers. In these photographs, the focus of the food operators and the fleeting faces of their customers represented the New York experience — a city defined by its streets.