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Well, I made it home to find my story on Budapest has gone live. 

BUDAPEST (JTA) — Janos Ladanyi’s eyes widened as he stepped through the narrow passage of a bar on Kazinczy Street, in the heart of this city’s old Jewish quarter. 

Formerly a residential building constructed in typical Budapest fashion — several floors of apartments arranged around a rectangular open-air courtyard — Szimpla Kert is among a number of trendy new establishments that have transformed the historic neighborhood into a lively urban enclave. The courtyard is now covered, and the old residences are filled with contemporary art and a young clientele sipping cocktails and puffing on cigarettes. 

As he nursed a palinka, a traditional Hungarian brandy, Ladanyi gazed admiringly at the vibrant slice of city life around him, a far cry from the disrepair in which much of the neighborhood lay just a few years before. 

"I never believed I would see this trend change and I would see young people coming back here," Ladanyi, an urban sociologist at Corvinus University in Budapest, said later over dinner at Cafe Spinoza, another establishment that has breathed new life into the quarter. 

But on a post-dinner stroll through the neighborhood, as Ladanyi surveyed other changes afoot in the area, he offered a steady stream of expletives. Over the past decade, developers have knocked down scores of old buildings and built contemporary mixed-use complexes, arousing concern from both historians and preservationists, as well as the leadership of the Jewish community. 

"Nowhere in the world, except in funny Third World countries, something like this is allowed," Ladanyi said. Through decades of tyranny, "the neighborhood survived — with terrible losses, but it survived. And now we have this so-called free world, this multicultural world, and we are losing it. Isn’t that unbelievable?"

Read the rest here. 

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