A company called Real Bronx Tours is no longer offering adventurous visitors to New York “a ride through a real New York City ‘GHETTO’” – at least on its Web site.
On Monday, after an article on Sunday in The New York Post depicted a tour guide inviting passengers to gawk at people waiting outside a church food pantry and marvel at a park once famous for crime, the reference on the company’s site to ghetto tourism (see archived 2012 version) instead promised “a taste of the real Boogie Down Bronx.”
The Post’s article described the guide on the $45-a-ticket tour, Lynn Battaglia, pointing out St. Mary’s Park in the South Bronx to her audience of mainly white Europeans and Australians and advising them, if they entered it, to “walk with a New Yorker” because even though it had been cleaned up, “maybe someone would pick your pocket” there.
The fallout from the article continued on Monday, as the Bronx borough president, Ruben Diaz Jr., and City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito wrote an open letter to the man listed as the company’s owner, Michael Myers, informing him, “We are sickened by the despicable way in which you portray the great borough to tourists.”
The letter continued, “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.”
A call and an e-mail to the offices of Real Bronx Tours were not immediately returned.
Over the years, the tours, which also go past landmarks like Yankee Stadium and the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage, have received mixed but largely favorable reviews – an average of 3.5 stars out of 5 — on Trip Advisor.
“A good and safe way to discover the Bronx,” Belgian_couple_2011 wrote in 2011.
Last year, Lawrence G. of Silver Spring, Md., wrote: “This tour really gives you a treat. It exposes you to a different part of the city. We had Lynn as our tour guide and she ROCKED it. Thank you for a great tour.”