A bus company has cancelled tours that promised tourists a glimpse into the seedier side of New York “from a safe distance.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the company, Real Bronx Tours, cancelled the tours amid outrage from local residents.
Three times a week, the $45 tour gave foreign visitors a glimpse at food lines, drug dealers chilling outside corner bodegas, seedy housing projects, and a park described as a pickpocket hangout.
The tour website described the Bronx as a borough that was “notorious for drugs, gangs, crime and murders.”
Residents say the tour was racist and misrepresented the “area where former Secretary of State Colin Powell and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor lived in as children,” according to the AJC.
“Those days are over, the Bronx is being rebuilt, it’s rising again,” said Bronx resident and Grammy-nominated musician Bobby Sanabria.
Most of the tenement slums in the Bronx before the 1980s were burned down intentionally by landlords looking for quick insurance payouts.
“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,” wrote Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito in an open letter to the company owner, Michael Myers.
“We’ve had enough of the gawkers who come to ghettoize us,” said Al Quinones, caretaker of a community park. “Their timing was bad. The Bronx is not burning, not now! Now, it’s resurgence.”
The bus company did not return reporters’ requests for comments.
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