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Where have all the red lights gone? — Curt Yeomans

Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com. 

Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com. 

Storefront hookers may possibly be on the verge of becoming a thing of the past in Amsterdam.

Or should I say they may soon be pushed out of the limelight?

That’s because Amsterdam’s leaders have decided they want their city to be known for more than prostitution and drugs under a clean-up effort known as Project 1012.

Now let me start this by trying to explain, as nicely as I can, the reasons why they want to clean up Amsterdam. In the city’s famous Red Light District, there are shops with tall windows and behind those windows are women available for purchase. You get the drift here, so there’s no need to explain that bit any further. Further bringing down the area are “coffee shops” which sell marijuana and souvenir shops which sell sex toys.

A lot of these businesses are allegedly run by mobsters from Eastern Europe.

And, to make matters more, shall we say, interesting, the Red Light District is located right smack dab in the middle of the city center so everybody sees it.

Needless to say, these are not exactly the type of businesses which promote a healthy, family-friendly environment, even if they have been synonymous with Amsterdam and brought in countless tourists for centuries.

Hookers, pot and mobsters? They gotta go — or at least go off to the outlying areas of the city.

In their place, the city wants to see art houses and real coffee shops and other establishments that are more trendy than subversive.

I doubt they’ll ditch the Red Light District name because it means big tourist bucks. It’ll likely be one of those things where the area will play off its reputation, even if everything that built up that reputation is long gone.

The city will say “Come to the Red Light District!” Tourists, meanwhile, will groan and say, “It’s not the same, man!”

I think it’s a good thing. I mean people want to say they’ve been to the Red Light District if they go to Amsterdam, even if all they did was walk through the area and gawk at the human eye candy. It’s like some sick rite of passage. You want to be able to say you did it.

Shoot, I admit I plan to visit the Red Light District when I go to Amsterdam, but I’ll just be walking through. I have a strict policy about visiting foreign areas: Don’t bring back anything you don’t want in the first place!

Just let the people say they’ve been to the Red Light District even if there wasn’t a prostitute in sight when they visited the old town.

Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247 or via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.