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From WIkipedia

Karangahape Road (commonly known as K' Road) is a famous street in Auckland, New Zealand, known for cafes, boutique shops, nightlife and formerly, for being a red light district.

It is located close to the CBD and runs mostly west-east, perpendicular to Queen Street. At its intersection with Ponsonby Road in the west, Karangahape Road becomes Great North Road, at its eastern end it connects to Grafton Bridg

Etymology

The name stems from the Māori language. The original meaning and origin of the word as a street name is uncertain, but there are many interpretations - ranging from "winding ridge of human activity" to "calling on Hape". Hape was the name of a Māori chief of some importance living over on the Manukau Harbour, thus the name possibly indicates the route that was taken to visit him.[1]

History

Remnants of a red-light past, the 'Las Vegas' strip club.
Remnants of a red-light past, the 'Las Vegas' strip club.

As it was a travel route used by the pre-European Māori, Karangahape Road is actually an older thoroughfare than Auckland's main street Queen Street which was only developed by Europeans in the 1840s.

From about 1900 to the early 1960s Karangahape Road was Auckland's busiest shopping street with many clothing shops large and small along with several Department Stores. Most retail chain stores had branches on K Road, often in preference to Queen Street. During the interwar period most of Auckland's main shops selling furniture, musical instruments, radios and other household appliances were located here.

After 1965 K Road lost most of its local customer base when construction of the inner-city motorway system resulted in over 50,000 people having to move out of the surrounding areas. The downturn in trade led to many shops closing and the relocating of businesses to other areas of Auckland. This accelerated the decline, and by the early 1970s the low rents meant it had acquired a rather seedy reputation as Auckland's red light district. Since the early 1990s there has been a move away from this image due to newly constructed apartment blocks attracting residents back to the area, as well as a general gentrification of close-by areas like Ponsonby. There are currently (2007) over 400 businesses in the K Road area, and only around ten of them are connected with the adult industry. Meanwhile, the 'Las Vegas' is thought to be New Zealand's oldest established strip club,[citation needed] and its nude 'Vegas Girl' sign has become somewhat iconic.

Alongside the few remaining shops and venues catering to the sex trade, K Road currently boasts an eclectic collection of shops, cafés and art galleries. At night its restaurants, bars and nightclubs make it a major part of Auckland's social scene. K Road has become a centre for much of Auckland's bohemian scene, with many venues for alternative music (see the music channel Alt TV) and fringe art as well as the LGBT community. It is also home to many trendy Op shops, the most well known of which is 'Paperbag Princess'.

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