Japanese tourists took photos of each other in front of 66 Perry St. Carries home on Sex and the City on Saturday.
Sex and City tour scratches Carries stoop from its route
By Joy Wiltermuth
Call it Stoop and the Groupies.
With the May film release of Sex and the City, flocks of female fans of the show once again are pouring into narrow Perry St. in Greenwich Village. But as waves of women visit the front steps of the imaginary home of Carrie Bradshaw, tempers in the community have begun to flare.
Visitors are lured to the area by the fictional lives of the characters created for the popular TV series. They sit for photos on Carries stoop and shop in local boutiques. They wait on line for cupcakes at nearby Magnolia Bakery, then sit outdoors eating them on a nearby bench just like Carrie and Miranda did.
For the shows fans, at least, it seems a picture-perfect ritual. Yet, in the sweltering heat of summer, some neighbors are resenting all the ruckus and seeking an end to Sex and the City tours on their streets.
Last week, residents won a reprieve, when, on July 15, the largest of the tour operators, On Location Tours, announced it would take Perry St. off its route.
In 2001, Georgette Blau, president of On Location Tours, hatched the concept of Sex and the City tours. For a $40 fee, the company treats fans to a three-and-a-half-hour jaunt around Manhattan to spots that have garnered cultlike followings from the TV series.
Its very upsetting to us, Blau said about her companys decision to drop Perry St. She said certain residents lobbied hard to scratch the destination from the tour. I do understand that they dont want to see hordes of people on their street, Blau said, but, we were so understanding.
Gerald Banu lives a few doors down from 66 Perry St., where Carries character lived on the TV show and on whose stoop actress Sarah Jessica Parker, who portrayed her, often sat while talking to her latest flame.
Desperate for intervention to stem the Sex invasion, Banu, the president of the Perry St. Block Association, helped enlist Community Board 2 to staunch the flow of tourists down his street.
We had one group of 50-plus people walking down one side of Perry St. and another group of 50 people coming from the other side, Banu said. Visitors are fine. We get two, three or four people taking a picture. But when were getting lines and lines of people, it is not.
An army of Sex and the City fans filed into Magnolia Bakery on Saturday to buy cupcakes, just like Carrie and Miranda did on the TV show.
C.B.2 really helped us out on that one, Banu said of the tour companys decision to cut out Perry St. He said it has already impacted foot traffic, which spiked following the movies release. Mostly it was from On Location Tours, he noted.
Aubrey Lees, a former C.B. 2 chairperson who lives on Perry St., was happy to hear from The Villager that the main Sex and the City tour operator had removed the street from its itinerary.
Thats the best news Ive heard all day, Lees said. I think everyone on Perry St. and the surrounding block is relieved.
Lees walks her dogs each morning at Bleecker Playground, which she called an absolute hellhole due to another Sex and the City tour side effect cupcake liners strewn on the ground.
The shows fans eat their cupcakes on benches in the park next to Bleecker Playground on Hudson St.
It is completely a mess and littered with little cupcake holders, she said, adding that Magnolia Bakery is also to blame for doing nothing to keep the park clean.
First of all, its pointless and stupid, Lees said of the Sex and the City tours. It is such a failure of imagination. Why would people visiting New York City waste their time with a fake location on TV? Its just an odd thing to do.
Tour operator Blau said the company maintains strictly enforced rules on its Sex and the City route. On Perry St., while passing Carries stoop, no talking, littering or photographing was allowed and customers were made to walk single file down the street.
In the nine years of our company, we never pulled a bus onto that street, Blau said. We have never done anything illegal. But she claimed that several other companies running their own versions of the tour have shown disregard for private property.
Over the years, neighbors have had complaints about Sex and the City fans visiting the Bradshaw brownstone.
But the woman who owns the house had a chance to turn down [its being used in] the movie, Blau said, noting its resurgence in popularity. Im not sure why neighbors are not blaming her.
I felt that over the years we compromised enough, Blau said. The main reason why we didnt feel welcome anymore is because a tenant in the building would sit outside their stoop and yell, Idiot!
A Google search for Carries stoop yields dozens of photos of Sex and the City fans sitting on their favorite Village steps. But a chain now hangs across the stoops front with a sign stating: Private Property: NO LOITERING. Premises Under Video Surveillance. Violators Will Be Prosecuted.
Brad Hoylman, chairperson of Community Board 2, worked with the tour operator to address neighbors concerns.
Its a good result, Hoylman said of the tours agreement to drop Perry St. He noted there has been a 25 percent increase in foot traffic in the area since the Sex and the City movies release two months ago. It has had a significant impact in the neighborhood, he said. Perry St. seems to be the hardest hit.
Hoylman said On Location Tours has been both open about its operations in the past and willing to address complaints. The company paid for a new streetlight on Bleecker St. and helped fund renovations in the Bleecker Playground. Hoylman added that the company uses clear-air exhaust filters on its fleet, which helps lessen their impact amid the glut of pollution-spewing tour buses. We told them they needed to let the community know what they have done, Hoylman said.
Yet, while some view Sex and the City-related tourism as overwhelming the residential community, others mainly merchants are happy for the commercial boost. In addition to Magnolia Bakery, other local stops on the tour are ONieals Grand St. bar in Little Italy, Louis K. Meisel Gallery on Prince St. in Soho and the Pleasure Chest the Seventh Ave. South sex-toy boutique where Charlotte bought her rabbit.
The tour has been a boon to a lot of local businesses, Hoylman said. Thats a good thing.
Its one of the more popular tours, agreed Dirk McCall, executive director of the Greenwich Village - Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, of On Location Tours Sex and the City package. McCall called Sex and the City extremely important to local merchants. Especially after the movie, he noted, its been putting a lot of money into the community.
Yet, McCall understands the stress heaped on local residents. He called it a good sign, that On Location Tours has quit Perry St. on its own accord. The tour has no plans of dropping its other Downtown stops, though.
They are one of the better tour companies around, McCall said. They are very good people.