For over 31 years, the Brooklyn Heights Association (the Association) has offered tours of private residence brownstones, allowing the curious passerby the opportunity to see what’s beyond those stoops. However, after over three decades of tours, the Association is closing its doors. Literally. And why? Well, the Association says that it has fell victim to the times–Google that is. Vice President of the Association, Erika Belsey, explained, “The people who put their house on the tour, it’s an unbelievable act of generosity, for they get no credit in a funny way, because its anonymous. Now you look at the address–you look it up, you find out everything. It’s just an invasion of privacy in the way that it wasn’t 30 years ago.”
The tours occurred every May in five Brooklyn Heights homes for $40 per person. The rules were simple: no photographs and no children except babies. Volunteers were stationed in each room, on each floor, and on each landing not only for safety but to assure that photographs were not taken. Now with smartphones, photos can be taken rather elusively, without even holding the phone within your vision. Not that this has occurred at this point, and the owners are unaware of any photos popping up on social media, but the owners and the Association are being cautious. They are worried that the combination of the information available through a Google search and tour goers posting photos on social media could lead to more burglaries. For now, the doors are closed.