Talk:Red-light district

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"Street Walker Unveiled"[edit]

The alternative explanation of the term from an autobiographical work was not sourced and dubious. I did a search of both the title and the supposed author, Nicole Sullivan, and neither came up with any results. Even if it does exist, it's not likely that a single sentence in an apparently unknown book is the origin of the term. -- (talk) 18:14, 14 July 2010 (UTC)


[1] has a slightly different etymology:

The main line came up from the south by passing through a block long tunnel between Ferry and Congress Streets. The rowhouses around here soon were filled with women who entertained the railroad workers for a price. The trainmen would leave a lite red lantern hanging from in the window of the house they were in, so the crew-caller could locate them when their train was ready to depart. From the sheer number of red lanterns came the name "red light district."

Is this incorrect, or is this article incorrect? --SPUI (talk) 20:38, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

This is the version I've heard too (the one above). Cribananda 04:34, 11 December 2006 (UTC)
I've always heard that it's because it's easier for customers to pick up prostitutes when there's a red traffic light. Like, the customer stops at the red light, the prostitute jumps in, and when it turns green again, the customer drives on like nothing happened. But that's probably just someone speculating, as I've never seen a real source. (talk) 13:04, 3 May 2010 (UTC)


I don't see how the statement that the japanese translation of red-light district means red line. Only thing I could think of is that prostitution crosses a line, the red line? I doubt this is how it is interesting. Could somebody clarify this or if it really isn't noteworthy then remove the interestingly part as it is misleading and leads to confusion.Bubbleboys 18:07, 4 August 2005 (UTC)

Well, I assume the interesting thing is that two completely different cultures independently came up with a similar name for the same thing, wouldn't you think? -- Necrothesp 22:10, 4 August 2005 (UTC)
Oh, so that's what's interesting. I was under the impression that the term for redlight district in Japanese was created after European contact had been made.Bubbleboys 16:38, 5 August 2005 (UTC)
Japanese police used draw red lines on maps to indicate the areas of prostitution.DDK 23:32, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
DDK is correct. Japanese police drew red-line for legal areas and blue-line for non-legal area. I added some info. If not so interesting, pls remove.Aoisola 9:21, 3 December 2006 (UTC)


Is there a wikipedia policy that it's alphabetical order by country? If not, I'd suggest that ordering by country/nation first, then city/town would make more sense. mr_Handy 03:48, 19 August 2005 (UTC)


Does Aleksis Kivenkatu, Helsinki, Finland qualify as a red-light district? There are no brothels there, but there are often Russian prostitutes on the streets, looking for potential customers. JIP | Talk 10:23, 23 August 2005 (UTC)

If it's known as a place frequented by prostitutes then yes, it's a red-light district, whether there are brothels or not. -- Necrothesp 17:10, 23 August 2005 (UTC)

I'd say caling prostitution 'victimless' is POV --BNJT 20:52, 28 January 2006 (UTC)


The "Famous red-light districts" section is turning into an out-of-control unsourced list of every alleged red light district on Earth, famous or not. I may start pruning it drastically... wikipediatrix 04:45, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

Okay, I've removed it entirely. Not a single entry was sourced, and 99.9 percent of the entries were not "famous" at all by encyclopedic standards. This article is not supposed to be List of red light districts, nor is it supposed to be the World Sex Guide. wikipediatrix 17:32, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
And I have restored it. By all means remove it to a separate article (List of red-light districts would be fine), but do not completely delete other people's work for spurious reasons. It is not a "sex guide", but a list of well-known red-light districts, which is perfectly encyclopaedic. Your comment about not being "famous" is your own personal opinion, but I shall change it to "notable" as being more encyclopaedic. Most of these places are pretty notable and in a list of this nature it is ridiculous to suggest that every entry should be sourced - the sourcing comes at the articles linked to, not on the list itself. -- Necrothesp 23:13, 17 July 2006 (UTC)
"Spurious reasons"?? Explain. Also try to explain how "most of these places are pretty notable". Then try to explain why you think entries shouldn't be sourced when not all of the articles make reference to them being red-light districts. Finally, try to explain why this list is even necessary when it's not supposed to be a list article to begin with. If you want to start List of red-light districts, go for it. wikipediatrix 02:45, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
I have already explained why your reasons are spurious. As I said, if you want to remove it to a separate article then do so, but DO NOT delete work. Your claim that this is original research is ridiculous - I suggest you read the original research article before you reference it, since it does not support your claim. People have been working on this article for some time, then you come along and just think you have the right to delete the lot? I think not. Could this be an attempt at censorship, I wonder? -- Necrothesp 11:03, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
You've explained nothing. All you're doing is being increasingly insulting and uncivil. Every major city and town in the civilized world has a red light district, but that doesn't mean they should all be listed on this article. wikipediatrix 13:51, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
I have been neither insulting nor uncivil. You seem to think that you can just impose your will on the rest of the Wikipedia community and simply delete a whole section of the article, which has been present for a considerable time, merely because you personally believe it should not be here. I explained my reasons for restoring the list in my first post here. In support of your action, you referenced a Wikipedia policy which does not support your claim (since it is not original research in any sense under the Wikipedia definition). Indeed, "every major city and town in the civilized world has a red light district". Where is the policy saying that they should not be listed? I have suggested that they could be moved to a separate article - you have responded by once again deleting the whole list. Tell me, who is being uncivil here? However, to avoid further argument I shall move the list to a separate article, which is what you should have done in the first place instead of deleting the whole section. -- Necrothesp 14:35, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
For example, it is indeed original research for an article to declare that Van Buren Street in Pheonix, Arizona is a place of prostitution, without any proof to back up this wild claim. The Van Buren street entry is redlinked, so where did the person who put it there get this information? People who live there or own property on this street probably do not appreciate this unsubstantiated claim. There is absolutely nothing preventing goofballs from adding any kind of false junk information to this article, using your "who cares if it isn't sourced?" standards. wikipediatrix 14:52, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
Kindly don't put words in my mouth. I didn't say they were all necessarily accurate, but that could go for much of Wikipedia. How do you suggest sourcing a list? Tell me which other lists are sourced. I don't think you'll find many. Yet you pick on this one, which makes me think you have an ulterior motive. Oh and incidentally, if you do a Google search you'll see that Van Buren Street is indeed considered a red-light district. Not really a "wild claim" then, is it? More like an accurate piece of information. So perfectly encyclopaedic and not in any sense "original research". -- Necrothesp 15:45, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
Until the source is placed on the article itself, it's still original research. I couldn't care less what a Google search says if that source isn't reflected in the article. And FYI, I edit many articles for removal of unsourced claims, not just this one. wikipediatrix 16:26, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
You should still know not to delete large chunks of material without discussion. Period. And as I've said, lists are rarely sourced, since all they do is point to other articles. -- Necrothesp 16:38, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

Ahem. Relevant Wikipedia policies:

—DIV ( (talk) 06:55, 16 March 2009 (UTC))

Etymology 2[edit]

I happened to catch a cable TV documentary on the history of sex late one night, and it mentioned that the origin of the term "red light district" comes from ancient China or Japan (I forget which) where prostitutes would traditionally hang red lanterns outside to indicate their presence. We definitely need a good scholarly opinion on this issue. -- Beland 19:44, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

Red Light District=[edit]

Yes the red light district is where prostitution and other suxual activities are legal. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:07, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

There are more to Red Light Districts than the Sex Trade[edit]

Red light districts in Japan such as Yoshiwara and Kabukicho traditionally cater to much more than the Sex trade. While there may be a lot of that, they also have normal restaurants, theaters, and other forms of entertainment. I wonder if the same can apply elsewhere

Bryan MacKinnon (talk) 10:07, 28 June 2009 (UTC)

Term Origin[edit]

I was watching the show "The Real West" (An A&E show that is now shown on the History Channel) episode called "Bloody Dodge City". The show claims that the "Red Light District" phrase was attributed to the city in the 1860s-70s. When I searched on the web there were also several sites that claimed the same thing, including the Dodge City Tourism website. While I cannot cite the History Channel's well-researched claim, the other sites should work well. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mwtmtmtl (talkcontribs) 04:23, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

I have heard that many Red Light Districts in Europe (outside of AMsterdam) are known for being areas of decreased drug policy enforcement, rather than prostitution. I can cite no sources, and since I'm not a european drug user I can not validate this claim.— Preceding unsigned comment added by Mwtmtmtl (talkcontribs)

The Dodge City tourism website isn't a reliable source, and the material contradicts the Oxford English Dictionary, which gives 1894 as the earliest use of the term. If you find something in an actual reliable source, we can include it, but promotional websites can't be used.--Cúchullain t/c 12:14, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

I think you are confusing the "Coining" of the phrase vs the first written use of the phrase. My sources aren't contradicting the new oxford dictionary. What sources do you think are stronger here?

How about Life Magazine? April 17, 1939 (Vol 6. No 16) page 70 makes this claim.... See it yourself here. Page 70 claims the term red light district originated in Dodge City. Again, neither of these sources contradicts what is being said of the 'first written' claim of the Oxford English Dictionary.

How about the Dictionary of the American West, pg 305? ... see here

How about the Milwaukee Journal - Jan 10th, 1939?,2094546

I just want to make sure we agree that these sources are quality, and we won't be starting an edit war. Please give me your feedback. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mwtmtmtl (talkcontribs) 15:56, 3 November 2011 (UTC)

I don't believe that passing references in 72-year old magazine and newspaper articles cut it. The Dictionary of the American West says only that "the name is sometimes thought to have come from a sporting house called the Red Light in Dodge City, Kansas." That's considerably different than what you're claiming here. In the spirit of BRD, please do not re-add that material without discussion.--Cúchullain t/c 12:53, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
This book by Allen Barra and published by the University of Nebraska Press says that according to local Kansas tradition "red light district" and other terms are supposed to have come from Dodge City, though "this has never been proved". However, Dodge City is probably responsible for the terms becoming widespread. I'd like to add the following, cited to Barra, as a compromise: "According to folklore, this and other terms associated with the American West originated in Dodge City, Kansas, home to a well-known prostitution district during the 19th century. This has not been proven true, but Dodge City was likely responsible for the term becoming pervasive."--Cúchullain t/c 13:31, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
The Milwaukee Journal contains more discussion of the term's origin than your source. The Journal quotes a 30 year old Kansas City Interview - an interview I cannot find the original version. Your source contains more speculation than my Milwaukee Journal source, my source contains a first-hand story about the wide-spread fame of Dodge City's "Red light". Again, all of them have passing references, your source included. I'll agree to add your source, if the speculative last sentence is dropped - Tons of sources say that the term was coined in Dodge City. One more comment here, your author's source is Dennis Hopper (who grew up in Dodge City). My Journal Author's source is an old west resident of Dodge City (Dad Williams). Both say that the term originated there, but Dad Williams explains how. I'd like to keep the Dad Williams discussion of how the term emerged in Dodge City to better clarify the origins. Mwtmtmtl (talk) 15:50, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
The Journal Article is also 72 years old, hardly the most current source available. The book, on the other hand, is published by a university press, a superior source to magazine and news articles, especially those that are that outdated. The caveat that this has not actually been proven needs to be included if we include the Dodge City material at all.--Cúchullain t/c 16:04, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
I think this is where we disagree on sources. The newer source would be a worse choice to cite because it is farther from the "origin" than the older article. We are discussing the 'origin' of this term, meaning its historical beginning. If we weren't discussing history I would share your viewpoint. Historical research relies on primary sources.
"History as an academic discipline is based on primary sources, as evaluated by the community of scholars, who report their findings in books, articles and papers. Arthur Marwick says "Primary sources are absolutely fundamental to history."[11] Ideally, a historian will use all available primary sources created by the people involved, at the time being studied. In practice some sources have been destroyed, while others are not available for research. Perhaps the only eyewitness reports of an event may be memoirs, autobiographies, or oral interviews taken years later. Sometimes the only documents relating to an event or person in the distant past were written decades or centuries later. This is a common problem in classical studies, where sometimes only a summary of a book has survived. Potential difficulties with primary sources have the result that history is usually taught in schools using secondary sources." (see this article about using primary sources) Mwtmtmtl (talk) 22:06, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
Check out this book, written by the same university press as your citation. The Trampling Herd Mwtmtmtl (talk) 23:24, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
Here's another Wild Bunch Women by Michael Rutter Mwtmtmtl (talk) 23:41, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
Here's another, published by the Harvard University Press. Violent Men: Single Men and Social Disorder from the frontier to the inner city. Mwtmtmtl (talk) 23:50, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedia articles rely on secondary sources by reliable authors in the field, not primary sources. Please see WP:PRIMARY. Citing primary sources is fine for some things, such as quotes, but interpreting primary source material is original research and is specifically prohibited.
That first book you mention is nearly as old as your newspaper articles, though it is a better source. And only the reprint was published by the University of Nebrasaka Press; the original was not. The second two books give a different origin for the term than the one you want to include (the railroad lantern origin, which is considered unfounded by the folklorist already cited).
As I say, I support including Dodge, so long as the caveat is there. How about, "Author Paul Wellman and others indicate that this and other terms associated with the American West originated in Dodge City, Kansas, home to a well-known prostitution district during the 19th century, which included the Red Light House saloon.[cite to Wellman book] This has not been proven, but the Dodge City use was likely responsible for the term becoming pervasive.[cite to Barra]."--Cúchullain t/c 15:14, 6 November 2011 (UTC)

Legality is not equal to Reality[edit]

I see Thailand here classified as illegal. Reality check. Soi Nana and Soi Cowboy anyone? If a Red-light District was measured in watts, you could see Bangkok FROM SPACE. Probably also Pattaya... and Angeles City, Philippines.

This article truly needs revision. If you don't know what I'm talking about then you really have no business contributing to this entry.

Perhaps a solution wcould be to add a tier for, 'nominally illegal but de facto unenforced.' Since the Thai sex tourism industry is several percent of the GDP.

I only speak of what I know. Leads me to wonder what other areas are classified wildly inaccurately. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:52, 1 August 2013 (UTC)

Article has to go by legality. Enigmamsg 17:32, 13 February 2015 (UTC)