Why the Nightlife Is the Good Life in World’s Best Cities

Author: Barbara Palmer       


Diners enjoy a night out at New York City’s Tribeca Tavern. The city ranked No. 1 in nightlife in Resonance’s most recent rankings of “America’s Best Cities.” (Alex Lopez/NYCGo)

It’s no surprise that a vibrant nightlife contributes to a city’s global identity, its local economy, and its allure for international visitors, writes Chris Fair, president of Resonance, a consulting firm that annually publishes its rankings of “America’s Best Cities.”

small cities

Chris Fair

But what is surprising, Fair wrote, is that the quality of a city’s nightlife strongly correlates not only with the number of its international visitors, but the amount of foreign direct investment the city receives. Another surprise: Nightlife was an even stronger factor in a city’s attractiveness to international visitors than its culinary scene.

As destinations increasingly understand the role that nightlife plays in their overall prosperity, more are adding “night mayors” — officials whose roles are to help city administrators, residents, and businesses resolve conflicts over things like noise and safety, while helping to preserve the benefits of nightlife to the culture and economy. They offer alternative ways, their proponents argue, of responding to crime and other disruptions caused by nightclubs other than imposing strict curfews or shutting venues down.

The trend began in Europe, where Amsterdam, London, Berlin, Paris, and Zurich, have night mayors. Two years ago, New York City — the city famous for never sleeping — became the first U.S. city to create an “Office of Nightlife,” and Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Pittsburgh, all now have individuals or teams who oversee their cities after dark.

For evidence that nightlife is a valuable asset for cities, you need look no further than Resonance’s most recent rankings of “America’s Best Cities,” which analyzes 25 factors, ranging from air quality to universities. The two top-ranked cities in the top 10 list of large cities, New York City and Chicago, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 for nightlife, respectively, and the top five cities all ranked in the top five for “programming,” a category which includes culture, culinary, shopping, and nightlife.

The same trend repeated itself in the top 10 list for small cities, although not quite as strongly. The top small city, Honolulu, was No. 1 for nightlife, and the top four cities on the list also ranked as the top four for culture, culinary, shopping, and nightlife.

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