Up until the end of World War I, Trieste was the only port of the vast Austro-Hungarian Empire and therefore a major industrial and financial center. In the early years of the 20th century, Trieste and its surroundings also became famous by their association with some of the most important names of Italian literature, such as Italo Svevo, and English and German letters. James Joyce drew inspiration from the city's multiethnic population, and Rainer Maria Rilke was inspired by the seacoast west of the city. Although it has lost its importance as a port and a center of finance, it has never fully lost its roll as an intellectual center. The streets hold a mix of monumental, neoclassical, and art-nouveau architecture built by the Austrians during Trieste's days of glory, granting an air of melancholy stateliness to a city that lives as much in the past as the present.