A few years ago City Hall considered holding the tour guide industry to a higher standard, or at least its own. While the city does technically now require tour guides to take and pass a test on the city's history, budget cuts caused the idea to go the way of the smoking police.
Some applauded the idea while some found it a cheap way to grab a few bucks.
Honestly I've never taken a tour of Philadelphia, not even as a child. I'm sure there are plenty of history buffs walking around Society Hill and driving trollies and double decker busses, but I've always had a sense of adventure that's led me down my own paths.
Still, they're a great asset to our city and tourism industry and provide families a wide array of wholesome entertainment.
In New York City, on the other hand, one tour guide company reaching higher (or lower, rather), introducing what it calls Real Bronx Tours. It's exactly what it sounds like, and if the favela tours of Rio comes to mind, that's what they're going for.
Three times a week a tour bus ferries a load of tourists through some of the Bronx less desirable neighborhoods. Gawking at lines awaiting handouts from an historic church, predominantly white Europeans and Australians snap pictures of the "sights" that they can't find in Manhattan.
It looks to me like hipsters found a way to deal with the economy while sticking with an exploitative sense of irony. What these clueless idiots don't get is New York City isn't that far removed from what it was in the 90s, and they won't find "the ghetto" so cute once someone gets shot.
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