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Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

This is the only kind of gang-related activity you'll see in Glasgow these days, a Gaelic dance to folk music. Credit: People Make Glasgow. This is the only kind of gang-related activity you'll see in Glasgow these days, a Gaelic dance to folk music. Credit: People Make Glasgow.

Throughout most of Europe, Glasgow has generally been known as a hotbed for gang-related activity. But for as many gang members as this Scottish city pushes out, the city is attempting to replace with young artists.

The goal, as evident in the men and women strolling its narrow streets, is to squeeze young people into its post-industrial infrastructure.

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As early as the 1960s and 70s, Glasgow had become infamous as one of the most violent cities in Europe's Western edges. But after an aggressive rehabilitation, the Glasgow of the 2010s is now a haven for artists, musicians, restauranteurs and museum goers.

And what residents — and visitors — are finding is a city working to rebuild, and quickly.

The largest city in Scotland, with a population of 600,000 (third largest in the United Kingdom) is remaking itself in the post-gang era with bread and circuses: six years ago it started the Glasgow International art festival, it is currently hosting the Commonwealth Games, it is renovating its museums.

Sarah McCrory, the new director of Glasgow International, which showcases local and international contemporary art, says the city is giving young people resources to learn here and then stay here, such as giving the students empty, post-industrial buildings "for use and make over."

The city also gives artists money, "and it feeds through to the rest of the city," says McCrory.

The Glasgow International festival is held every other year: The next one will be in April of 2016, so plan ahead. The festival is spread out in venues across the city, hosting discussions, performances and exhibitions. The goal is to bring in as many people as possible to witness the changes.

And what will strike the visitors most will be the architecture. Along the "Style Mile," the twisting, stone-lined road lined with stores, the amount of stores is not as impressive as the buildings they occupy. Stone castle-like structures stretching into the sky. It can be a bit unsettling to see a TGI Fridays storefront in an elegant stone building, but there weren't many vacant properties along the mile, either, which means Glasgow seems to be succeeding in its mission to bring people in.

 
 
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