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Even before the site's "adult services" section was shut down, it was falling out of favor among many users. And because sex workers knew that cops were spending a lot of time responding to ads, they were increasingly hesitant to answer solicitations.
High-end prostitutes of the sort Eliot Spitzer frequented account for a greater share of the sex business than they once did.
All this doesn't mean a john can't get what he's looking for in the park, but he had better be prepared to search awhile.
Although putting numbers on these trends is difficult, the transition from the streets to the Internet seems to have been very rapid.
These women have little in common with the shrinking number of sex workers who still work on the streets.
In a 2001 study of British prostitutes, Stephanie Church of Glasgow University found that those working outdoors "were younger, involved in prostitution at an earlier age, reported more illegal drug use, and experienced significantly more violence from their clients than those working indoors." When it comes to the sex trade, police officers have in recent decades functioned as quasi-social workers.
These red-light districts waned in part because the Internet became the preferred place to pick up a prostitute.
Even the most down-and-out sex worker now advertises on Craigslist (or did until recently), as well as on dating sites and in online chat forums.But today, only a few big cities, such as Los Angeles and Miami, still have a thriving outdoor street market for sex.New York has cleaned up Times Square, Chicago's South Loop has long since gentrified, and even San Francisco's infamous Tenderloin isn't what it used to be.And as Barnard College's Elizabeth Bernstein has shown, sex workers today tend to make a conscious decision to enter the trade -- not as a reaction to suffering but to earn some quick cash.Among these women, Bernstein's research suggests, prostitution is viewed as a part-time job, one that grants autonomy and flexibility.There are few things more dispiriting, they say, than hearing of a woman's cries for help and being unable to find her.