Until 2002 this neighborhood, Guayaquil's oldest, at the foot of Cerro Santa Ana (Santa Ana Hill) was a seedy barrio of ramshackle houses where drugs dominated after dark. But from 2001 to 2002 the city poured $8 million into the neighborhood, transforming it in record time into one of the most charming parts of the city. Brightly painted houses, shops, and cafés climb Santa Ana Hill. Old-fashioned streetlamps light the way to the summit—there are 444 steps, thoughtfully
(or unthoughtfully) numbered—where you can get an unparalleled view of the city. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Las Peñas's transformation is that it was done without relocating the neighborhood's residents. Many of them benefited from business grants doled out by the city and now work as shopkeepers or manage cafés. The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive, and other cities around the globe are following Guayaquil's model.