|Alexandra Maruri founded MCNY Tours in the Bronx in 2011|
While working for a popular Midtown hotel chain, customers constantly asked her about a quiet, removed place in NYC. Maruri, who often drew maps or offered suggestions for the best locations to visit, would then state the obvious, “You should come to the Bronx, where I live.” And the tourists would respond with the obvious, “I wouldn’t go there alone. I’ve heard too many negative things about it.”
|Maruri in the Woodlawn area of the Bronx|
Maruri then realized this was her opportunity to change the perception of the borough in which she lives and calls home. When one tourist said, “I’d only go if you went with me,” a light bulb went off and she hasn’t looked back. She founded MCNY Tours in 2011, and for the past two years, the Bronxite has
been giving both private and group tours in historic areas of the borough. That childhood dream of owning a small business became reality.
“I started to gather all the information to start a tour company that would offer services to various parts of the Bronx at reasonable prices, and make the tours of places they probably never heard of,” such as Little Italy and Little Ireland. During this time, Woodlawn Cemetery received National landmark status,
and a few months later, part of the Grand Concourse was declared a historic district with landmark status. But even with these impressive credentials for the borough, Maruri had an uphill battle.
|Delicious options in Little Italy–courtesy of Giovanni Paolo of the Bronx’s Little Italy|
Most tourists and even many New Yorkers hesitate to visit the Bronx due to a stigma from the past. But according to Maruri, who has lived near Yankee Stadium, the Edgar Allen Poe Cottage, and finally near Woodlawn Cemetery, the Bronx has been overlooked or even avoided because of public misconceptions.
More recently though, things are looking up — the Bronx now attracts visitors as well as residents of the other boroughs who flock to areas like Arthur Avenue in Little Italy, Riverdale, and City Island.
|Wave Hill in Riverdale--courtesy of MCNY Tours|
|Bronx map in stone by the Bronx River in Woodlawn|
Proud to be a Bronxite and grateful for the many opportunities the Bronx has given her over the years, Maruri explained, “I wanted to do this for the borough.” She feels overwhelmed with emotion when she speaks about the borough she knows so well. Since starting her company, Maruri has been determined to bring both New Yorkers and visitors to this section of NYC, showing them what the Bronx is really about.
Like most of us, this New Yorker loves her town. But outside of her northernmost corner, what does she love most? “Even though I wholeheartedly support my borough and the businesses, I like going to the city on my days off because I get to relax and see something new.” A fan of film festivals, Maruri
attends the Brazilian Film Festival at MoMA, the TriBeCa Film Festival, and the International Film Festival each year. “I also enjoy ethnic neighborhoods like East Harlem and Jackson Heights – I’m simply fascinated by other cultures.”
Maruri commented how special the city is at Christmas. “I also always encourage people who take my tours to come during the holidays,” she said. “There is no place like NYC” during the holiday season. “There is something magical. New York City is beautiful.”