Last updated on May 16, 2017 at 02:41 pm
While “open” signs and an endless stream of taxis make New York the “city that never sleeps,” at 3 a.m. in Boston, businesses are locked away while the occasional cab creeps down deserted streets.
In an effort to reverse the popular view of Boston as a sleepy city, Mayor Marty Walsh has proposed his plan to keep the city open later: “an international business hub needs a truly cosmopolitan culture,” he said at the Boston Municipal Research Bureau annual meeting earlier this month. For Walsh, fostering this cosmopolitan culture includes establishing an attractive and vibrant city nightlife.
First steps towards transforming Boston’s nightlife include the creation of a Late Night Task Force. The task force will be comprised of restaurant and bar owners, community leaders, and young professionals and will work with the state on legal barriers to explore how to “foster a safe and vibrant nightlife culture.” One goal of this Task Force is to examine the possibility of allowing bars and eateries to remain open as late as 3:30 a.m. – two hours later than current closing time. Last call – which generally is around 1 a.m. for bars – would be pushed to 2:30 a.m.
As Marty Walsh leads the initiative to make Boston a worldlier city, he seeks to create incentives for the many international students studying at Boston universities “to stay here, start their business, and tell their friends back home that Boston is the place to be.”
The push for globalizing Boston coincides with recent efforts to extend the weekend operating hours of the MBTA’s subways and buses. As part of a one year pilot program, beginning on March 28 select bus routes began operating for an additional 90 minutes and the last MBTA trains now leave downtown Boston at approximately 2:30 a.m.
The first weekend of late night service, according to T officials, “went smoothly, with no arrests, and plenty of riders.”
As if extending the T’s operating hours wasn’t enough, food trucks are also getting behind the wheel of ‘globalizing’ Boston’s nightlife culture. Food truck patrons will soon be able to satisfy that midnight craving now that a select list of trucks will be participating in a pilot program that allows them to serve food until midnight.
Walsh credits revamping Boston’s nightlife to the fact that “our economy is changing and our work force is changing, and… it’s something we need to look at,” he said in an interview with Boston Magazine.
The task force and extended operating hours for the T and food trucks will undoubtedly change the landscape of Boston’s nightlife scene.
Currently, the 1 a.m. last call pushes patrons into the city streets in a mass scramble to secure a cab. Extending bar and T operating hours will give night owls more options, both in terms of when and how they get home.
However, later bar hours could increase the disruption already felt in some Boston neighborhoods when patrons exit onto the street.
There are pros and cons to Walsh’s ‘global vision’ for Boston.
But whether you’re supportive of the initiatives or not, as Walsh’s Chief of Staff Dan Koh said: “if [we] truly want to make Boston an international city, [we] need to look at all things that will make the city attractive…and that includes things like late-night options.”
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