A few weeks ago, Jonah Levy and I had the wonderful opportunity to TAKE a tour, instead of LEAD a tour. Better yet, we got to take a tour of The Bronx – probably the borough I know the least about. (For example, I’ve led Staten Island Bike Beer Blitzes and I’ve led Queens Foodie Tours with aplomb. But the Bronx is a beast. And besides, our Dad happens to be a native Bronxite, so we hand all Bronx tour requests to him.
Therefore, when I learned about I Love The Bronx Week, and the absolutely free guided tour of the Bronx by Borough Historian Lloyd Ultan, younger bro Jonah and I jumped at the chance to learn more about the amazing Northern Territory. Filled with so-bad-they’re-good jokes (whilst passing under the Highbridge, NYC’s oldest bridge, Lloyd quipped “people always ask what the bridge must be smoking!”) and beautiful views of awesome art deco apartment buildings and fun-filled facts about native Bronxites (Stanley Kubrick! DJ Kool Herc! Tony Curtis! Ralph Lauren!) we tootled through a truly diverse collection of neighborhoods and areas. From University Heights to Fordham, Morrisania, the Hub, Belmont and West Farms, everywhere we went Bronxites were happy to see us.
And even though the views atop that double decker were beautiful, the most refreshing experience in The Bronx was that, while zipping around on a double-decker bus, local New Yorkers were actually waving and cheering our presence! If you’ve ever spent any time on top of a DD bus in Manhattan, the reactions (when you get any) from the locals runs the gamut from disgust to outright hostility. As a tour guide, I’ve heard rude New Yorkers shout “Go love your own city!” to busloads of tourists who take the whole thing in as an “authentic NY experience.” Which, unbeknownst to them, is hardly how most modern-day NYers act. We’re nice people! We’re just always in a rush. Same goes for Brooklynites – whether they’re dyed-in-the-wool natives or they’re recent transplants – they often BOOO! the passing double deckers packed with people itching to see what all the Brooklyn hubbub is about.
Which is why it was so nice to see Bronxites of all ages and colors waving to us and cheering to us and truly welcoming us to The Bronx. That kind of hometown pride, unadorned by cynicism or irony, just pure unabashed passion and pride for their hometown. And that’s what we like to see when touring around our own city. Hooray for New Yorkers! And we LOVE THE BRONX all year round!