This month, Bronx Historical Tours is celebrating its 8th Anniversary. With the foresight of entrepreneur and Bronx native, Alexandra Maruri, The Bronx is now a destination for tourists and locals alike to learn about the fascinating history of one of New York City’s greatest boroughs!
What started off as an idea, a “concept” as Alexandra herself puts it, has turned into the best-rated Bronx tour resources around.
Let’s take a step back in time to 2010, when Ms. Maruri was working at a New York City hotel. Having been downsized from her corporate job of nearly two decades, this proud Bronx-loving young woman conceived of the idea to develop tours around her favorite borough after a brief conversation with a hotel guest who said, “I would visit The Bronx if I would go with you.”
These words were all it took for the young business woman to turn her idea into a full-fledged business. Her concept was twofold. First, to offer a vehicle by which people from near and far could get to know the history of The Bronx, through tours; and secondly, and simultaneously, to promote small business within her beloved borough.
Her goal was to build self-sustaining tourism, whereby, the intredity of the neighborhood is maintained, while, at the same time, bringing awareness and promoting local Bronx businesses.
Taking money from her 401K to fund her new venture, Alexandra Maruri registered her new business, eight years ago this month on June 13, 2011. She spent hours at the Rambling House mapping out the concept, creating tours and routes around the Borough that would appeal to tourists.
Maruri told me, “I told the people in the neighborhood and Tara at the Rambling House, that I was planning to bring tourism into The Bronx and everyone asked me how? I said I will promote The Bronx as a destination.”
And that is precisely what she did!
Initially selecting three of the most historic and quintessential Bronx destinations, she launched her new business with three tours - Little Ireland in Woodlawn Heights, Little Italy in Belmont and Bronx Cultural Tour on the Concourse.
As fate would have it, Woodlawn Cemetery, one of the largest cemeteries in New York City and located in the Woodlawn section of The Bronx, better known as “Little Ireland,” was slated to be designated as a National Historic Site and added to the National Register of Historical Places that same month - June 23, 2011, to be exact.
It was perfect timing for featuring The Cemetery, which opened during the Civil War in 1863 and covers more than 400 acres. The resting place for more than 300,000 people, that include such notables as Frank Winfield Woolworth, Bat Masterson, Diana Barrymore, Nellie Bly, George M. Cohan, Celia Cruz, Duke Ellington and Miles Davis, Woodlawn Cemetery is also home to some of the most beautiful architecture and buildings on its grounds.
Take a visual tour of The Bronx with BronxHistoricalTours.com
I can attest to the beauty of this Bronx destination, having taken the Little Ireland - Woodlawn Heights tour with Maruri, and the incredible knowledge she bestowed upon me during the tour.
“I created all the routes based on places I frequented, grew up around and the historical landmarks throughout the Borough,” Maruri explains.
Her knowledge of The Bronx is only matched by her passion and love for her home borough! During my Bronx Church Tour with Alexandra, I had the joy of meeting several of the local business owners, who have become fixtures in the Belmont section and have made the neighborhood what it is - a warm and special place.
Since it's humble beginnings, Bronx Historical Tours has grown by leaps and bounds to include a plethora of tours in every category imaginable for visitors with any and all interests.
In addition to the above mentioned tours, Maruri's company now offers a variety of walking and bus tours that include the following:
With more and more being added all the time!
Thanks Alexandra Maruri for putting The Bronx on the international tour radar scene!
-Till next time,
Elisa is a travel blogger and freelance writer. She is co-founder of TravelinCousins.com travel blog and writes a weekly column for ThisIsTheBronx.info.