Ringing the Changes

Until recently, Vienna's sex and drug trades were centered around the Gürtel, or "belt," as locals term the outer ring road laid out in an 1890 city plan by renowned architect Otto Wagner. Prostitutes filled the pay-per-hour hotels and drug dealers lined the grimy streets, every meter of which seemed covered in lurid graffiti. But in 1996 municipal authorities launched an urban-regeneration scheme that today is starting to bear real fruit. The sex workers and pushers are gone and a Gürtel address is now one of the most fashionable in the Austrian capital. Cocktail lounges, nightclubs and restaurants that act as...

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