by Shannon Lee Gilstad, Founder of BronxCentric!: Bronx Movers and Shakers
Today we celebrate a victory for the Bronx. Sunday’s New York Post revealed a company offering tours of our borough with the sole purpose of “gawking” at residents, trading 1970s war stories and half-truths, and to playing on fears of outsiders to make a quick buck. By Monday evening, due to the efforts of Bronx politicians, as well as more than 250 Bronxites and supporters who signed onto a protest petition, those tours have ceased. That’s great, but where do we go from here?
For years I have been a staunch supporter of our borough, correcting anybody who dared to diss it and taking any and every opportunity to dispel a rumor or two.I have turned many a leisurely Sunday walk to the train or grocery store into a history lesson and mini-tour for friends and family, pointing out architectural wonders, landmarks, and events that happened there. Despite the efforts, everywhere I go from TV to Twitter I find people making large pronouncements about the Bronx even if they have never actually visited for themselves.
What’s more is that all of this negative press has invaded even the psyche of Bronxites themselves. I have met residents who’ve ‘fessed up to using a relative’s Manhattan address on resumes, refuse to eat out or shop in the borough, and believe that the grass is greener anywhere but here. Through interactions with them, many Bronxites are surprised or are in disbelief when I tell them about all of the positive things that are happening in the borough: free and low-cost concerts and lectures, new bars and restaurants, and neighborhood people making a difference in our community. Ah, but that isn’t sexy and you’re not going to necessarily read that or see it on the 6 o’clock news.
Did you know the Bronx has…
- almost a dozen colleges and universities?
- not only a Little Italy, but also a Little Ireland, Little Africas, Indias, Albanias, Jamaicas, Mexicos, and more?
- more art deco architecture than anywhere else in the United States?
- the biggest metropolitan zoo in the country?
- the most parkland of all give boroughs?
I want to hear from you about what is going on in your neighborhood or block.