Where urban morals, margins, and mainstream converge — under cover of a neon glow.

Recently the journal City gave a blushing tribute to Amsterdam's red light district: seven scholarly papers tracking the cultural, political, and aesthetic history of the (in)famous locale. In their introduction to the special section, guest editors Manuel Aalbers of the University of Amsterdam and Magdalena Sabat of New York University argue that Amsterdam's De Wallen area "may be the quintessential and perhaps even the paradigmatic red light district."

But of course it's not the only one. As Aalbers and Sabat also point out, cities around the world have a long-standing "special relationship" with the sex industry. In some cities, the red light district is an identifiable place of prostitution (legal, illegal, and illegally regulated alike). In others, it's limited to sex shops, strip clubs, and adult cinemas. Universally it's the place where urban morals, margins, and mainstream converge — under cover of a neon glow.

Here's a SFW-ish peep at ten of the world's most popular red light districts, as viewed by Flickr's creative commons community.

De Wallen - Amsterdam

Courtesy of Flickr user Cédric Puisney.

Soi Cowboy - Bangkok

Courtesy of Flickr user moomoobloo.

Frankfurt, Germany

Courtesy of Flickr user ComùnicaTI.

Montmarte - Paris

Courtesy of Flickr user Mark Turner.

Kabukicho - Tokyo

Courtesy of Flickr user rahims.

Hamburg, Germany

Courtesy of Flickr user Spanner Dan.

Villa Tinto - Antwerp

Courtesy of Flickr user Amaury Henderick.

Perth, Australia

Courtesy of Flickr user mollyeh11.

Geylang - Singapore

Courtesy of Flickr user idi0tekue.

Broadway - San Francisco

Courtesy of Flickr user dotpolka.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Charts

    The Evolution of Urban Planning in 10 Diagrams

    A new exhibit from the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association showcases the simple visualizations of complex ideas that have changed how we live.

  2. POV

    Why the Future Looks Like Pittsburgh

    The city’s rise as a global innovation city reflects decades of investment in emerging technology, a new Brookings report says.

  3. Life

    A Flexible Bridge Bends the Rules of Earthquake Engineering

    A new design in Seattle promises to stand strong after being rattled in a violent shakeup.

  4. Rescue crews and observers on top of the rubble from a collapsed building that fell in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City.
    Environment

    A Brigade of Architects and Engineers Rushed to Assess Earthquake Damage in Mexico City

    La Casa del Arquitecto became the headquarters for highly skilled urbanists looking to help and determine why some buildings suffered more spectacularly than others.

  5. Equity

    What the New Urban Anchors Owe Their Cities

    Corporations like Google and Amazon reap the spoils of winner-take-all urbanism. Here’s how they can also bear greater responsibility.