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Published: July 30th 2012
The heart of the Bronx.
We didn’t make the same mistake as I made yesterday and we walked down to meet the “The Real” Bronx tour, via somewhere for breakfast. The tour was in the coolest of busses; basically a kind of school bus, but painted dark grey and black. It really looked the part of travelling into the ghetto. Actually, maybe it being covered in graffiti would have worked better.
We were all allocated our stab-vests and firearms (not really) and we set-off along the east side of central park and through Harlem to reach the Bronx. Actually it was nowhere near as rough as we thought it would be. No worse than certain areas of London that I could mention. Our guide explained a lot about the history, covering its slide into depravation, but also all the efforts that had gone into improving it. There were some areas that looked run-down and the litter was noticeably worse than Manhattan, but it was not the gang infested slums that you see on TV.
The guide talked solid for three hours. Apparently there were six reasons why the Bronx fell into decline, these being the relocation of the factories for cheaper expansion elsewhere in
One of the up-and-coming areas of the Bronx.
the States, the middle classes moving to other areas, the city cutting back on the police and other public services due to a lack of money, the banks “red-lining” loans and mortgages, problems with drugs starting with heroine and followed by a widespread addiction to crack-cocaine.
Jennifer Lopez got a bit of a slating, although I am not sure why. Apparently she is not very popular in the Bronx anymore.
We stopped at the Yankee baseball stadium, which is in the Bronx (and where the tour obviously had a concession with a shop as it was being pushed extensively) and then headed back down the west side of Central Park. The guide rightly pushed the contrast between the Bronx and this area which is amongst the most exclusive and expensive in the country, if not the world.
At the end, it was made quite clear to us that a tip was expected and even how much it was expected to be. That’s one thing that you need to budget for, even with the New York City Passes, as the tips are expected for just about everything and really increase your costs.
For the afternoon we hired some bicycles and cycled around central park. It was annoying as it had been cool and overcast all morning and as soon as we started to exert ourselves, on came the blazing hot sunshine. It was a good fun afternoon, in amongst all the thousands of other cyclists and runners. It’s a huge park and takes a surprisingly long while to get round. According to our tour guide, it was completely man-made, with the exception of some rock outcrops around the top.
The tour guide mentioned the area called Hell’s Kitchen, which is just south of our hotel and has a wide variety of restaurants. We decided to try that for an evening meal and it was good advice. They were also significantly cheaper than other places we had been to.
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