A New York City tour company is drawing ire for promising to stop by the Bronx ghetto as part of their excursion. For $45, Real Bronx Tours took tourists from Manhattan past a housing project, a “pickpocket hangout” according to a tour guide and food-pantry lines. The tour participants, who are mainly European, were encouraged to take in the sights of the South Bronx that became known for “drugs, gangs, crime and murders” in the ’70s and ’80s “from a safe distance.”

Bronx President Ruben Diaz Jr. and City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito were outraged by the tour and sent an open letter to Real Bronx Tours owner, Michael Myers, reflecting their sentiments:

“We strongly urge you to stop profiting off of a tour that misrepresents the Bronx as a haven for poverty and crime, while mocking everything from our landmarks to the less fortunate members of our community who are availing themselves of food assistance programs.”

Following the letter, Real Bronx Tours issued a statement ceasing all tours to the Bronx ghetto. They have sparked a discussion in the community about the negative portrayal of the borough and how to combat it.

Elena Martinez, an anthropologist and Bronx resident, tours the same neighborhood but instead, chooses to focus on the borough’s “incredible, majestic music culture” including theaters and clubs that birthed salsa. She calls The Bronx “the incubator for hip-hop, salsa, jazz, Afro-Cuban music, R&B.”

She along with other residents will meet tomorrow to start “Bronx Rising,” a campaign to reverse the negative image of their borough projected by companies like Real Bronx Tours.


  • London

    No lie, there have been mornings (usually on Saturdays and Sundays) where I’ve seen coach buses filled with with white people taking pictures at various locations in the BX. My fiancé and I always thought they were developers or investors of the numerous developments that popping up in the borough.
    They get off the bus and walk around, but they never stray too far from the bus. But now I know this must of been part of the tours. WOW, I feel so violated now knowing what that was all about. Not so much cause they wanted to see the neighborhood, but because of how they looked down on the residents.

  • Leo the Yardie Chick

    I recall reading in a history book about how the well-heeled in society would take Sunday walking tours through the local mental asylums, and how Ota Benga was displayed alongside apes in a zoo for ‘human’ amusement.

    I see much hasn’t changed.

  • London

    And another thing…pickpocket hangout?

  • LemonNLime

    These has been going on in developing countries for year. Slum/township/favela tours are very popular in Brazil, the Caribbean, South Africa. Tours to Harlem church services have become popular too amongst European tourists.

  • talaktochoba

    so who gets the money?

    why stop there?

    why not include an actually hijacking of the bus so all these tourists get to stand and deliver to the very people they mock?

  • Fredsan

    Dam white folks is scared of us lol!!! They gotta pay money to go thru a perfectly free neighborhoods!? Them some scary ass folks man

  • MommieDearest


    So visiting the Bronx Zoo isn’t enough? You have to “observe” humans in their “habitat” as well?


  • The Artist

    I know, right. There all behaving as if these individuals are some sort of zoo animals; the onlookers watch from what they call a “from a safe distance.” Smh.

    Far too many of these areas have been sensationalized by the likes of rappers, most of whom, never even set foot in a housing project. They make millions rapping about the ghetto, yet how many constructively contribute to the community.

  • EbonyLolita

    I’m from the Bronx, Born & Raised, and this is bullshat! They are touring the SOUTH Bronx. Why don’t you do a full tour & see the rich history of the ENTIRE borough!! It’s not all slums & bums! Pickpockets?! You can be in MIDTOWN Manhattan & be pick pocketed! They are playing on the stereotypes & fears of Whites! But this is the way of racist white folks! Always want to see the degradation that is associated w/being Black & Brown.
    What ppl need to do is stop these same type of tours from going to Black Churches in HARLEM!!! The same tour companies are doing the same thing from borough to borough!

  • stef

    socalled “gehtto tours” exist around the world one of the most popular are the favela tours in brazil. in which europeans and asians get to see what they only see on tv.

  • No_chaser

    LOL. Too funny.

  • BloomingLotus

    yup! same happening in brixton. People seem to think its perfectly fine once the area apparently becomes “gentrified” hmmmm

  • Blue

    There’s good & bad in all of the boroughs of NYC.

    If you’re going to tour The BX at least go to Little Italy, Wave Hill, The Bronx Zoo, The Botanical Gardens, taste some good Spanish & Caribbean food, visit Edgar Allen Poe Cottage, zip by Yankee Stadium, go to the art museum etc…Put that $45 to better use

    Not “let’s study the urban humans in their natural habitat”

  • mEE

    one of these tour buses was parked outside of my school the other day. I was coming back from lunch and saw a bunch of white people (definitely not a common sight in the South Bronx) taking pictures in front of the building. Then they got on their tour bus and went on their merry way. disgusting.

  • Danté

    This is typical of white people. Go to some far-away place and watch the natives roam around in their habitat. Then pack up and head back home and talk about all the negroes and Latinos.

  • Marisa

    I am a resident of the South Bronx for almost 23 years now and the only time we see large amounts of white people here, is for a Yankee game or concerts then they beat it back downtown or the suburbs. Whoever came up with this tour has probably been the one who created those stupid CNN Blacks are screwed up in America specials. Just like that soon to be special on black funerals, I keep saying black lives are being used in these manners as entertainment for “others”. I could understand if it was like what we do for Bronx Week every year, show off the cultural nature of the Bronx, the start of hip hop, Yankee Stadium, the Bronx Museum, The Bronx Zoo, the recent findings of slave burial grounds places like that. Those are not even close to hey lets check out some projects, and where the blacks and browns rob each other. Our plight is not entertainment but, its been turned into that for awhile. Whoever the owns that tour should be dropped off here in the Bronx after dark, and see if its entertaining and fun then.

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