Big city survey: Edinburgh
Big city survey: Edinburgh
NUMBER 86 Princes Street is a very anonymous door in the heart of Edinburgh’s retail precinct. It is the entrance to the citadel of Edinburgh’s Establishment, the place where deals are done and the capital’s real movers and shakers congregate. But only if they are male, for the New Club still does not allow full membership to ladies.
HOW to find the Next Big Thing is the holy grail for all property watchers - the down-at-heel area with bargain-basement properties which will soon soar in value.
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Edinburgh and sex go back a long way. In the past, mention of Danube Street conjured up images of the naughty side of the staid capital city. There, in an elegant Georgian terrace at Number 17, Edinburgh’s most famous and semi-public brothel was operated. For 30 years after World War Two, it was run by Dora Noyce, the oldest girl in the oldest profession, and Scotland’s best-known madam.
Those involved in the tourism sector in Edinburgh greeted this year with trepidation, preparing themselves for more bad news as the effects of 11 September and the foot-and-mouth outbreak lingered.
When King George V asked why the Scotland XV bore no identifying numbers on their backs, the long-reigning secretary of the SRU, J Aikman Smith, replied: "This is a rugby match, not a cattle-show." There could hardly be a more perfectly Edinburgh reproof, and I trust it was delivered in that precise Morningside accent, now sliding inexorably into disuse, if not quite oblivion.
The blood system that carries commercial and human energy through any urban conurbation is its transport system.
Feng shui is the ancient Chinese practice of arranging a physical environment to maximise energy, or chi. If a living area, a building or a community has good chi, then its inhabitants will be healthy. In particular, living or working near water brings auspicious energy and good fortune.
In the world of the performing arts, Edinburgh begins the 21st century with the kind of head start most British cities can only envy.
CONGESTION charging is set to dominate next year’s elections to the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh. It has already been earmarked as a major campaign issue by both the SNP and the Tories and both parties expect to garner significant numbers of votes as a result.
It may pain natives to admit it, but when it comes to shopping, Edinburgh has long been eclipsed by its more populous neighbour to the west.
Spiralling house prices have become a national fixation in 21st-century Britain. Scanning the property pages to check rising values has developed into a curious pastime akin to checking your lottery numbers and rarely a day goes by without another survey indicating boom or bust.
Twenty years ago, Scotland’s titular capital city was a provincial backwater with an ailing economy. The city centre was littered with derelict building sites that had lain empty for almost a generation. These "holes in the ground" were eloquent testimony to Edinburgh’s failure of both vision and drive. Plans for a modern conference centre and a Festival opera house big enough to take international companies had gathered dust since the 1950s.
It would have been a bold or highly optimistic commentator who would have predicted two years ago that Edinburgh’s financial services sector would be sitting where it is now.
In 1972, the fiery poet Hugh MacDiarmid summed up Scotland’s capital with the words: "There is no-one really alive in Edinburgh, yet. They are all living in the tiniest fraction of the life they could easily have, like people in great houses who prefer to live in cellars and keep all the rest sealed up."
In 1997, Edinburgh hit the international headlines with the announcement that an offshoot of Edinburgh University, the Roslin Institute, had created the world’s first genetically engineered mammal - Dolly the Sheep.
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