- Last Updated: 9:42 AM, May 19, 2013
- Posted: 10:48 PM, May 18, 2013
Three times a week, Real Bronx Tours takes riders — mainly white Europeans and Australians — on a trip that includes stops at food-pantry lines and a “pickpocket” park.
Last week, on the first stop of the $45 tour, guide Lynn Battaglia, from Pittsburgh, pointed out a housing project. She then mocked the Grand Concourse, modeled after a Parisian boulevard.
“Do you feel like we’re on the Champs-Elysées?” she teased a couple from Paris.
As she spoke, a line of two dozen poor people — including one man visibly agitated by the onlookers — waited for handouts from the church pantry.
“I don’t know what that line’s about, but every Wednesday we see it,” Battaglia told the tourists. “We see them go in with empty carts, and we see them come out with carts full.”
The bus stopped in front of St. Mary’s Park, where she credited Mayor Rudy Giuliani for curbing crime.
“If it were 1980 and you said to me, ‘Lynn, I want to die.’ My answer would be, ‘You’re in the right neighborhood,’ ” she said.
She suggested the park is still dangerous.
“I might encourage you to walk with a New Yorker, not because you’re going to get shot, just because sometimes people take advantage if they know you’re a tourist, either charge you too much or maybe someone would pick your pocket,” she said.
The group listened as the bus swung onto East 140th Street, where Battaglia claimed the derogatory use of the word “pig” for police officer was born.
“The policeman, his name is Patty, and he would walk up and down that street, and if he ran into an alcoholic, he’d beat them mercilessly. So they’d call him ‘Patty the Pig,’ ” she said.
The Online Etymology Dictionary says the slang originated in London in 1811.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz slammed the guide as “the biggest fool on the planet.”
“They should tell people about The Bronx that we all know, and that’s The Bronx that’s had the lowest crime rate since 1963 last year,” he said.
“To have foreigners come and gawk at a long line of people who are less fortunate than they are and to make money off of that and to view them as they are some sort of entertainment is pretty disgusting.”
Real Bronx Tours did not respond to a request for comment.