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.