A Bronx tour company has shut down its "Ghetto gawker" tours taking people to see soup kitchen lines and public houses after media and political exposure sparked a wave of outrage online.
The now-deleted website for Real Bronx Tours offered "a ride through a real New York City ghetto," a phrase that caught the attention of the Bronx Tourism Council.
“I was incredibly disturbed by what I saw,” Olga Luz Tirado, the executive director of the Bronx Tourism Council, told PIX 11.
The sight-seeing trips, which cost $45 a person, appealed mostly to white Europeans and Australians, the Post reported.
Tirado said she expected a "Real Bronx Tour" to feature stops at sights like the Bronx Zoo or the New York Botanical Gardens, but was dismayed when a staffer went on a tour incognito and discovered its true nature.
Tourguide Lynn Battaglia would instead take them -- safely inside a bus, of course -- to Grand Course, a rough approximation of Paris's Champs-Elysées, St. Ann's Episcopalian Church, where the poor lined up for food pantry handouts, and St. Mary's Park, which was a deadly spot when New York suffered under much higher crime rates.
"If it were 1980 and you said to me, ‘Lynn, I want to die.’ My answer would be, ‘You’re in the right neighborhood,’” Battaglia said.
Local leaders were furious, and anger began to mount as word spread on social media.
@thepatches I can not form words to express my confusion over the "Bronx Ghetto" tour— Rebecca Roach (@sorakirei) May 21, 2013
GTFOH VIDEO! White company takes tourists on GHETTO BUS TOUR to show how POOR BLACKS folks live... ow.ly/lfA5t— MediaQUICKY (@mediaquicky) May 21, 2013
New Low! Company makes money with new "Mock the Poor Tour" in NYC. "Oh, look at 'em going into a soup kitchen, lol." alternet.org/news-amp-polit…— TeriInk✒ (@TeriInk) May 21, 2013
“We are more than happy to welcome tours to our community that celebrate the rich culture and history of our neighborhoods, but using the Bronx to sell a so-called ‘ghetto’ experience to tourists is completely unacceptable,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. in a statement.
Although Real Bronx Tours has caved, Bronx residents say they owe the people they exploited an apology.
Historical Bronx Tours owner Alexandra Maruri has a suggestion for these misguided guides.
“I actually would like to offer a tour to the “Real Bronx Tours” to give them a REAL tour of the Bronx,” Maruri said, hoping a view of the borough's historical neighborhoods would set them straight.
More than a few people pointed out the irony of politically correct outrage over the tours, when, in fact, these kinds of sight-seeing trips -- sometimes called "reality tours" -- take place in slums all over the world.
this tour company leading "ghetto" tours is disgusting, but y'all realize this happens all over the world, right? bit.ly/10DEMJl— she was a showgirl (@mslooola) May 20, 2013