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Movement: Transportation Justice in Chinatown

Oct 3 - Nov 30, 2019

Chinatown’s walkable streets and public transportation are key concerns for a densely populated neighborhood over 150 years old. Countless pedestrians walk to stores and services and the diagonal crossings or scrambles, bulb outs, and crossing beacons help keep them safe. Chinatown is the most transit dependent neighborhood in the city with the lowest rate of car ownership. While Chinese Americans were once restricted to living in Chinatown, many now live throughout the city and region. Residents in San Francisco’s Southeast neighborhoods like the Bayview, Excelsior, and Visitation Valley as well as western areas like the Richmond and Sunset rely on specific public transportation lines to get to Chinatown for shopping, assistance, and socialization.

Over the years, Chinatown leaders have effectively advocated for public transportation and pedestrian safety – approaching it holistically, linking improvements to jobs, housing, and open space. Starting in the 1970s, volunteers and staff from Chinatown TRIP (Transportation Research and Improvement Project), Chinese Chamber of Commerce, and Chinatown Community Development Center have organized efforts around the transportation and pedestrian needs of the neighborhood’s predominantly monolingual, immigrant, low-income seniors and families. Throughout the decades, the Chinatown community built relationships between San Francisco city agencies and elected officials, gained influence in the city’s decision making process, and advanced a number of bus service and pedestrian improvements for Chinatown and city-wide.

This exhibit highlights the tireless efforts of Chinatown community leaders, ranging from individuals like Rose Pak and Enid Lim who attended countless San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) hearings for bus lines and the Central Subway, to Chinatown CDC’s youth who organized “human scrambles” to advocate for pedestrian scrambles. Chinatown continues to employ community-driven processes involving existing networks of community stakeholders as well as the many residents and merchants. Everyday people attend meetings, identify priorities, and make their concerns known to create more efficient public transportation and a safer neighborhood. Special thanks to Bijan Liang and Vida K who have created the beautiful illustrated map of the many transportation journeys to Chinatown.

This exhibit is generously supported by The Kresge Foundation and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). 41 Ross is run through a partnership between Chinatown Community Development Center and the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco.



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