On the Waterfront

Panoramic Images / Getty images

The waterfront at Leith, Edinburgh

As the rough-hewn setting for Irvine Welsh's 1993 novel Trainspotting, the decayed dockside district of Leith, Edinburgh, provided a wonderfully seedy backdrop for a grim tale of nihilistic, drug-addled youth. But today, just 15 years later, Welsh's characters would struggle to recognize the Scottish capital's old port area. That's because over the past decade Leith — lying two miles (3.2 km) northeast of the city center — has experienced a rapid renaissance thanks to the closure of the docks and the cleaning up of once polluted waterways. The addicts have been replaced by white-collar workers, who live...

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