Friday, September 21, 2007

There goes the neighborhood

Amsterdam's famous Wallen begins to change:

The city of Amsterdam announced Thursday that it will invest up to EUR 15 million to help clean up its famous red light district by buying brothels there.

The city will help a real estate developer buy 51 storefront windows where prostitutes ply their trade to convert them into apartments or commercial premises.

....The Wallen, as the prostitution district is known in Dutch, is one of the oldest and most picturesque areas of Amsterdam and draws hoards of tourists, although they mainly flock there to gawk at the women.

"It is not about chasing prostitution of the Wallen, but it's about fighting crime," Cohen stressed.
City council member responsible for finance Lodewijk Asscher said closing down the prostitute windows should not have a negative impact on tourism.

"We are talking about what we call vertical drinkers, people who walk around the district drink in hand and never even sit down in the area's bars and restaurants," he said of the tourists attracted to the area.

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