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City That Never Sleeps: New York May Establish 24-Hour Nightlife Districts

| July 8, 2021

New York City has plans to fully live up to its iconic name.

New York City’s Office of Nightlife have shared a comprehensive report that includes plans to establish 24-hour “entertainment districts.” This would mean certain regions in the city would be permitted to sell alcohol and host events at any time.

Oftentimes, strict curfews lead to the rise of unlicensed, possibly dangerous gatherings that bleed into residential areas. The pilot program notes: “Uniform closing hours can lead to increased tensions when groups of people simultaneously exit venues into public streets and sidewalks.”

According to the new proposal, allowing 24-hour nightlife zones in specified districts “can help people to move at their own pace and reduce conflicts” if implemented properly. The Office of Nightlife is in the process of establishing what areas in the city encompass the least residential density—such as Times Square—to facilitate fewer complaints and, in turn, conflicts.

One example provided by the office of a successful 24-hour policy comes out of Amsterdam, which applied for a similar license back in 2012. “Approximately a dozen venues hold this extended hours permit, which allows for safer, more coordinated late-night activity throughout the City,” the report reads.

Famed New York clubbing destination Avant Gardner.

According to the New York Post, the proposal arrives during times of heightening crime in the city, where “quality-of-life violations have escalated and city leaders have failed to stem raging after-hours parties.” This has sparked some concerns in the community, like those raised by Nicole Gelinas, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

“We need to retain New York City’s fragile residential population right now more than we need a few thousand more drunk people in the streets,” Gelinas told the Post. “The city is already having trouble policing disorder. Now think about the unique challenges of trying to police a place where people go to behave in a way they wouldn’t behave at home. You have to wonder if New York City is up to the challenge.”

New York City currently has a 4AM cutoff for establishments that serve alcohol, but they can open as early as 8AM. However, few venues actually take advantage of the full 20 hours.

By establishing a new 24-hour policy, the City That Never Sleeps will ostensibly be able to compete with the nightlife districts of Las Vegas and Miami. It would also help to rebuild the city’s nightlife industry, which was decimated during the pandemic. As of this publication, however, there is no timeline for when these new measures may be implemented. 

You can read the office’s full report here.


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