The Bronx has become a tourist destination.
Where once even New Yorkers feared to tread, now even the mayor of San Juan is booking accommodations at the luxurious Bronx Opera House Hotel — in the South Bronx, no less.
To prove that this is not an anomaly, the Bronx has finally got its own guidebook, published this month, titled “The Bronx: The Ultimate Guide To New York City’s Beautiful Borough.” Written by the borough’s official historian, Lloyd Ultan, and former university professor Shelley Olson, it is quite possibly the first of its kind.
“There has never been a guidebook devoted solely to the Bronx,” said Ultan, 77.
The timing is perfect, he said. “The Bronx is beginning to recover from the outmoded image of the Bronx as full of rubble and feral people,” he added.
He emphasized recent statistics showing a 14% increase in tourism in 2013 over the previous year, according to the city’s official tourism agency.
Olga Tirado, the executive director of the Bronx Tourism Council, said the Bronx has been getting attention internationally. It was featured on the front page of the Toronto Star’s travel section, and highlighted in blogs and travel guides in Europe. “I have hosted tour operators and journalists from South America and Europe and they are all amazed at what is here,” she wrote in an email.
Of course, there are still rough patches to the Bronx’s rise as a destination: the same mayor of San Juan said she was refused cab rides from Manhattan to her hotel last week.
Here are a few highlights from the new guidebooks — surprising places or things to see that native New Yorkers probably don’t even know about.