Historical heights: Tour celebrates black culture around the borough

for The Brooklyn Paper
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She is showing off Brooklyn’s past!

A new series of tours celebrating Brooklyn’s black cultural history is bringing visitors to the neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, and Flatbush. The woman organizing the Brooklyn Heritage Tours says they are driven by her love for history, and her desire to promote black culture in the borough.

“My core goal and purpose is to really promote Brooklyn and Brooklyn tourism focusing on African-American neighborhoods, districts, and communities,” says Chimene Montgomery, who has worked with tourist-facing businesses like the Grand Hyatt and W Times Square hotels.

For Montgomery, who comes from Cameroon, cultural tourism focusing on African, African-American, and Caribbean culture in Brooklyn is a way to ensure that the culture receives the respect it deserves.

“Who really owns this heritage and culture? If we don’t get a hold on trying to bring visitation and creating value into our own communities and neighborhoods, we’re going to miss out,” she said.

Montgomery started the tours in October, leading intimate groups to sample traditional Senagalese cuisine at Joloff Restaurant and visiting cultural sites like the Arlington Place Bed and Breakfast, built in 1887. Other stops have included Spike Lee’s mansion and the Weeksville Heritage Center, which focuses on black life in Brooklyn during the 19th Century.

The tours generally travel by luxury mini-bus, but larger groups use larger coach busses.

Montgomery aligns her tour schedule with community calendars, so that each tour can coincide with special events such as outdoor concerts or gallery shows that speak to the ethos of the community. Each tour will be unique, she promises.

“It’s going to change all the time. It’s going to include sounds of central Brooklyn from bebop to hip-hop, follow the different migration patterns from Harlem to Brooklyn, include food like visiting Ali’s Roti Shop, and even visiting the mas camps,” she said, referring to the groups that create costumes and masks for carnivals.

Her next tour will visit Crown Heights in December, and she hopes to increase her schedule to eight tours per month starting in 2016.

“I’m looking to definitely increase tourist numbers by 30 percent,” she said.

Montgomery is also working to create an app to provide historical Brooklyn facts for each day of the year.

“Inside Crown Heights” tour on Dec. 12–14. Contact Montgomery at for details. $40.

Reach reporter Alley Olivier at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at Follow Alley on Twitter @All3Y_B.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

FC Bklyn from Bed stuy says:
we know all about bklyn history
Dec. 7, 2015, 3:03 pm
samir kabir from downtown brooklyn says:
Price kind of steep.
Dec. 8, 2015, 5:53 am
Ed from Bay Ridge says:
Great idea.
Dec. 8, 2015, 10:50 am
Benjamin Vareen from Midwood says:
Weeksville is great as far as it goes; how about some acknowledgement for the TWO HUNDRED YEARS of black slavery preceding it?

"Funny" how many place names in Brooklyn are named after slave owning families, and now the actual proper name of even one Brooklyn slave-- perhaps Dutch speaking, perhaps English-- can't be found anywhere.
Dec. 9, 2015, 8 am

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