New York’s worldwide reputation as the “City that Never Sleeps” could become even more of a reality if a pilot 24-hour nightlife scheme is a success.

group of people in a concert
Nightlife could become 24-hours in New York City. Photo: Mark Angelo/Pexels.

The idea proposed by New York City’s Office of Nightlife (ONL) would see nightclubs in select neighborhoods open around the clock. “Now, that might sound really wild to some people,” said Ariel Palitz, Director of ONL, recognizing that New York’s 4am closing time is already one of the latest in the country.

However, during her presentation of the inaugural report of ONL, she stressed that similar schemes have been successful in other cities around the world. “If implemented properly, it can actually help people move and socialize at their own pace, rather than having to get it all in before four o’clock in the morning,” Palitz said. She explained that the change “can actually help reduce conflicts and quality of life concerns, by not having everyone rushing out and rushing in at the same time.”

Similar schemes have been implemented in Berlin (a city that doesn’t have any curfew) and has been operating in Amsterdam for several years.

Ariel Palitz, senior executive director of the city’s Office of Nightlife. Photo: Francesca Mirra/ONL.

The Dutch city began allowing nightlife venues to apply for 24-hour licenses in 2012. Applicants had to prove cultural significance, accessibility to public transportation, and
be in locations without “inconvenience to local residents.” Businesses also had to demonstrate commitments to offer additional daytime, mid-week programming with community benefits. “It has proved wildly successful for everyone, not just businesses, not just nightlife, but for the communities as well,” said Palitz.

The enthusiasm for late hours is not as great in other areas of the country. In May, Miami’s Mayor Dan Gelber went in the other direction when he moved the 5am closing to a 2am shutdown to reduce the Miami Beach “anything goes” party scene.

New York nightlife goes past 4am regularly now with illicit after-hours parties: “Right now, the majority of after-hours are underground and completely unregulated. So if you’re thinking about safety, what is perhaps the safer thing to do — something that’s out in the open, accepted, legal and regulated or something that’s underground?” Palitz told Crain’s.

Speakeasy at Bond 45. Photo: Phil O’Brien.

Producer Holly-Anne Devlin, who has just opened Speakeasy burlesque show at Bond 45, supports the initiative. “Midtown is the heartbeat of New York City and it’s about time that we truly become the city that never sleeps! In order to be competitive with Miami and Las Vegas we need a 24-hour offerings that reflect the stunning artists, mixologists and creatures of the night that make New York phenomenal,” said Devlin.

Nightlife is a significant part of New York’s economy, culture, and identity, supporting nearly 300,000 jobs and generating $35.1 billion in economic impact. Another proposal from the ONL is to create a New York Museum of Nightlife.

The next step for the 24-hour pilot will be for Palitz and her team to work with the Department of City Planning and other city agencies to explore potential neighborhoods for implementation.

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  1. Amazing I support. Keep in mind, however, most new liquor licenses start at block associations, who make a rec up to the community board, community board tells SLA its desire, which is usually “the community board makes no objection providing bar closes 1am…) SLA happy to avoid a fight agrees to 1am.

    This is why so many nbars close 1am on 9th and 10th ave and dude streets. I think maybe 8th Avenue could do 24 hour. But people who live nearby will try to block it….

  2. 24 hour nightlife for midtown Manhattan is a very bad idea. Comparing NYC to Berlin and Amsterdam is a false equivalency. Neither of those European cities have the density of population that Manhattan does. Neighborhoods, especially Hell’s Kitchen, have been overwhelmed by the 24/7 construction that has overtaken the west side. Considering the “safety” of business patrons, by providing a few more hours to consume alcohol, over the health and well being of NYC residents is a bad policy. NYC has sold out its resident to lobbyists and developers. The patrons of these 24 hour nightlife venues would be tourists and non-NYC residents. NYC residents are always the last consideration, if they are considered at all, in revenue-generating schemes that benefit a few stakeholders, harm residents, and erode community.

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