Ghetto Bus Tour

Next time you visit Chicago, consider skipping the normal city tours and instead take the "Ghetto Bus Tour." It takes tourists on a guided tour in a yellow school bus "through vacant lots and past demolished buildings on a tour of what was once one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the country." You get to see the former housing projects. The tour guide is Beauty Turner. The Chi-Town Daily News reports:
Turner leads her captivated audience from site to site in a beat-up yellow school [bus]. Sitting in the back, listening to her point out the sites, the We The People Media Bus Tour feels like an eccentric elementary school field trip. Turner's mostly white charges are reporters and employees of non-profit organizations. Elinor Krepler is there as part of her rabbinic training program in Philadelphia. There is a group from the Field Mueum’s Cultural Understanding and Change program. There are reporters from National Public radio and a history professor from Roosevelt University, Brad Hunt, who is writing a book about the history of public housing. Many on the tour snap pictures of public housing projects as if they were tourist attractions. They turn their microphones toward CHA residents who are not used to being listened to.
This reminded me of something, but I couldn't immediately put my finger on it. And then I remembered -- Joey Skaggs's Hippie Bus Tour. Back in 1968 Skaggs rented a greyhound bus, filled it with long-haired hippies, and then took them all on a guided tour of a middle-class Queens community, allowing them to snap photos of guys mowing their lawn, washing their cars, etc.

So the Skaggs version of the ghetto bus tour would, presumably, be to take residents of the housing projects on a tour of Chicago's wealthy suburbs. That might be pretty interesting.


Posted on Mon Jul 23, 2007


I'd love to go on that version of the tour!
Posted by Nettie  on  Mon Jul 23, 2007  at  06:31 PM
to quote Frank Zappa: "I'll go up to, Beverly Hills, just before dawn, and knock the little jockeys off the rich people's lawns, and before they get up I'll be gone". Yeah, that's my kinda tour- Jockey-Knockin'with Frank Zappa. cool
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Mon Jul 23, 2007  at  07:31 PM
I didn't know you were an FZ fan, Hairy. I've been a fan of his since the 60's. The song you're referencing is "Uncle Remus."

Yeah, I, too, would love to see a Suburban Tour. I'd be sure to take lots of photos of the middle-aged men in the madras shorts mowing their lawns.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Jul 23, 2007  at  07:44 PM
Looking at the list of people going on the tour, I am not surprised at the sort of people who are treating unsuspecting human beings as a tourist attraction. And the fact that I'm not surprised at this is sad. I wonder how many of these people come away feeling superior to "those people" or otherwise use this to re-enforce their biases. If they had gone on a walking tour it would have been marginally better. But best of all would be for them to have actually dealt with them as human beings on a regular basis.
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Tue Jul 24, 2007  at  01:45 PM
"But best of all would be for them to have actually dealt with them as human beings on a regular basis."

Hippie! (kidding!)
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Tue Jul 24, 2007  at  07:41 PM
What type of person would offer such a tour? I think its a sign of low self esteem. You need to get it together mentally before you can take anyone on the tour. And what type of people would want to see an empty lot? A kind of person that was full of himself. There are some sick people out and the most of them was on the bus tour. Get a life and get some business. Leave the vacant lots along.
Posted by richie  on  Wed Jul 25, 2007  at  11:28 AM
Visit my site at,
It takes all kinds to make a world!
Posted by DOreen Van Lee  on  Wed Jul 25, 2007  at  11:48 AM
CMG, I ain't a hippie, I worked for a living. But I do work now with the homeless and working poor. My resentment of this sort of "experience" goes back a long time. I can't see how anyone who has any respect for others can take this "tour" nor can I see that the people offering it have any respect for either the tourists or the people of the areas visited. Have I ever taken a package tour? Yes, but it was in a "tourist zone" where the local people knew tourists would visit and I was going from one sight to another. I think my mother would have slapped me up side the head if I ever went on a tour just to see the locals.
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Wed Jul 25, 2007  at  12:57 PM
'Diary OF A Midwestern Gettogurl'
Description: Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee, also known as Gettogurl, was born in 1969 in Chicago, Illinois, in one of Chicago
Posted by Doreen Van Lee  on  Thu Jul 26, 2007  at  01:50 PM
I think that this woman was a genius she brought
public housings back to a national level and got you all to talking.
Go head on with your bad self!
Keep on a talking and keep on a walking!
Posted by genius  on  Thu Jul 26, 2007  at  05:33 PM
Sign in Old Schoolers!!!
Remember back in the day
When rubbing alcohol
Cleaned the scratches
On LP's and 45's,
And placing a nickel on
A phonograph needle
Kept the party alive.

When Now-n-laters were a dime,
And playing catch-a-girl-kiss-a-
Girl wasn't a crime.

When you ran home after school,
To watch the Flintstones and
Gilligan's Island,
To see if those 7 crazy castaways
Would ever make it to dry land.

When slogans like 'When you give
A kid a book you give a kid a break',
And a 'Mind is a terrible thing to waste',
Were generated for kids sake.

When you dropped a piece of candy
Then picked it up and kissed it up to God,
But you didn't dare perform that ritual
In front of your mom cause you knew it was odd.

When party rap was the in thing,
And when you went to a party
A gift or a card with a dollar in it is what
You'd bring.

When colorful plastic jackets
And jelly bean sandals were all the rage,
And you got your first summer job and
$3.35 was the minimum wage.

When you wore high water pants or
And your friends made jokes about them
That were all duds,

When it was a treat to go downtown
To watch a Bruce Lee or Spike Lee flick,
And you'd eat popcorn and cotton candy
Until it made you sick.

When someone called your mama,
It was sure to cause all kinds of drama,
But the street fight ended,
Without a doubt,
When the street lights went out.

When family reunion's were something
You looked forward to attending,
You got a chance to meet new relatives
And with the old one's there was time for
fence mending.

When you could ride around all Sunday
On Supertransfers,
When you chased rainbows and didn't curse.

Life was a little bit simpler back then,
So that is where I prefer to take my pen,
And conjure up memories from days gone by,
In these perilous times is there any question why?

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Posted by Doreen  on  Wed Oct 10, 2007  at  12:22 PM
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