There's something wonderful, satisfying, and aspirational about looking into the homes of strangers, and the house tour has honored that sensibility since long before websites like, well, Curbed rolled around. But the Internet, and accessibility to public records—ahem, deeds—and other personal information makes the anonymous house tour a thing of the past. At that, the Brooklyn Heights Association, which has for the past 31 years offered anonymous neighborhood brownstone tours as a fundraising effort, is pulling the plug on the outings.
"The people who put their house on the tour, it’s an unbelievable act of generosity, for which they get no credit in a funny way, because it is anonymous" the vice president of the Brooklyn Heights Association told the Times. "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."
Another of the association's main concerns is a rather new one: the proliferation of rogue photo sharing. "You don’t even have to look through the viewfinder" anymore, BHA's VP told the Times while pointing out that cell phone photography on the strictly no-photos tours is now harder to catch than ever.
While most people are more visible now than ever given social media, there's still a certain expectation for privacy. "It’s a strange kind of privacy concern that people have because on the one hand, they are active in social media, in ways that I don’t think are at all private, and then they don’t want people inside" a Brooklyn Heights resident who once put her house on the tour told the Times. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, which first reported the tour's demise, summed it up the best: "The house tour is a victim of the modern world."