Ghetto Tours Stopped: Why Did Real Bronx Tours End Bronx Bus Rides?

By Philip Ross on May 23, 2013 4:22 PM EDT

ghetto tours stopped
Yankee Stadium, located in the Bronx borough of New York City, was one of the stops on Real Bronx Tours route. The “ghetto” tours stopped after an outcry from locals calling the tours unacceptable. (Photo: Reuters)

"Ghetto" tours stopped operating this week in the Bronx after local Bronx leaders called foul on the tour company's "ghetto" tours. Real Bronx Tours, a Manhattan-based tour company that takes mostly European and Australian visitors on bus tours through the Bronx, advertised their tours as a way to witness the "real" Bronx culture -- one marked by "drugs, gangs, crime and murders." This is more reflective of how the Bronx was in the 1970s and 1980s, not today.

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Real Bronx Tours took visitors past food-pantry lines, "pickpocket" park and a housing project, all in the name of tourism. Riders could photograph a real, "authentic" New York City "ghetto," the company claimed.  

NBC News reports that neighborhood leaders, including Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, protested Real Bronx Tours, and even sent the company a letter on Monday conveying their disgust with the tour company's "ghetto" tours.

"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," the letter read.

News One reports that one tour guide for Real Bronx Tours, which costs $45 a rider and operates three times a week, even made jokes about the poverty in the area and described the South Bronx as full of crime and violence. According to one tour patron, the tour guide allegedly told the tourists that she didn't know what the pantry line was for, but that "Every Wednesday we see it."

On the tour company's Trip Advisor page, the description of the "ghetto" tours reads: "Get off the beaten path and see more than just manhattan [sic]. Let us show you the Bronx as it really is, a borough of diverse ethnic groups and neighborhoods, cultural institutions and surprising natural beauty."

"We ... were promised that we would see 'a real NYC ghetto'," one Sydney, Australia-based commenter, in a post titled "Do not do this tour," wrote on the "ghetto" tours company's Trip Advisor page. "Unfortunately this tour did not deliver on the description."

Other commenters say they enjoyed the "background" information they were given about the Bronx during their bus tour with Real Bronx Tours.

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