Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 27th 2013 Contents B9
Monday, May 27, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
NEW YORK---A company that promised sightseer
tours to the Bronx that included a New York City
"ghetto" has stopped the bus rides under protest
from an outraged neighbourhood.
Real Bronx Tours, which took mostly European
tourists from Manhattan to see life in the South Bronx
"from a safe distance," issued a statement last week
saying it would immediately cease all tours there.
Three times a week, the $45 ride took visitors past
food-pantry lines, a housing project and a park a
guide described as a pickpocket hangout.
Tourists were told they d get a look at the Bronx
that reflects one of the darkest chapters of the city s
history, the 1970s and 80s, when the tour Web site
said "this borough was notorious for drugs, gangs,
crime and murders."
The Bronx lost hundreds of buildings to fires inten-
tionally set by landlords to collect insurance money,
hence the phrase, "the Bronx is burning."
But residents say the tours are a misrepresentation
of the area where former Secretary of State Colin
Powell and US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomay-
or lived in as children.
"Those days are over, the Bronx is being rebuilt,
it s rising again," said Bronx resident and Grammy-
nominated musician Bobby Sanabria.
Borough president Ruben Diaz Jr and City Coun-
cilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito sent an open letter
to the company owner, Michael Myers, saying they
were "sickened by the despicable way" the borough
was being portrayed to outsiders.
"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 assis-
The tour company did not respond to calls and
emails requesting comment. It was not clear whether
they would resume any of their tours. And by Thurs-
day last week, the website of the company was no
Other companies in the city still offer regular
guided trips to the Bronx.
Three weeks ago, NYC & Company, the city s
tourism bureau, launched a promotion of the South
Bronx as "one of our safest, most exciting boroughs,"
with highlights including Art Deco architecture and
Real Bronx Tours has been booted from the bureau s
membership list as a result of the language they ve
been using, NYC & Company spokeswoman Kimberly
Elena Martinez, an anthropologist and Bronx res-
ident, offers visitors walks through the same neigh-
bourhood that was on Real Bronx Tours itinerary.
The human struggles on these still gritty streets
have produced urban styles and sounds copied around
the world, from hip hop music and outdoor murals
"Many young Europeans come here as a pilgrim-
age," Martinez said.
"This was the incubator for hip-hop, salsa, jazz,
Afro-Cuban music, R&B."
She pointed to theaters, lavish dance halls and
clubs where salsa came alive, along with some of the
biggest names in music. Sanabria, a famed drummer,
says he comes from a borough "that has an incredible,
majestic music culture."
And although many of the buildings now house
stores and offices, or were demolished or burned
down, new ones mingle with restored historic ones
"and people are helping to bring the neighbourhood
back," Martinez said.
"We ve had enough of the gawkers who come to
ghettoise us," says Al Quinones, caretaker of a com-
munity park that features a garden with fruit trees
and a stone outdoor amphitheater.
"Their timing was bad. The Bronx is not burning,
not now! Now, it s resurgence."
On the door to his shack on the grounds is a sign
that reads: "Don t dump on the Bronx."
Sanabria, Martinez and other Bronx residents plan
to kick-start a counter-campaign to what they call
the Bronx s "negative image." They ve calling their
action "Bronx Rising." (AP)
Bronx 'ghetto' tours
stop amid outrage
talk about their
tours of The
of New York last
treks to the
has shut down
by the tours.
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