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Ana Maria Cornea / Gavel Media

There's Hope for Boston's Nightlife

It’s no secret that Boston lacks a robust nightlife. With no happy hour or late-night public transportation, and not much open past 1 a.m., the city offers little in terms of after-dark entertainment. The problem has become so apparent that mayor Michelle Wu announced earlier this month that she is appointing a director of nightlife economy to help improve the situation. 

The position was given to Corean Reynolds, former Director of Inclusion at The Boston Foundation, and her role will focus on the diversification and improvement of late-night activity across all 23 Boston neighborhoods. This includes fostering more late-night options, working to extend the operating hours of public transit, and improving the safety of the social scene in Boston. 

“We are working to create more opportunities for residents and businesses to help our night scene grow and bolster our local economy across the board,” said Mayor Michelle Wu during a press conference on March 6. 

Boston is not the first major city to create a government position focused on the nightlife economy. In 2017, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation to establish an Office of Nightlife. The city's nightlife director worked to streamline the process of opening bars or clubs and advocated for Narcan behind every bar in the city. 

The issues with Boston’s nightlife expand far beyond a lack of clubs or happy hour specials. The city’s liquor license policy has a history of favoring whiter neighborhoods, leading to a racial imbalance in which establishments are granted the right to sell alcohol. Although Wu did not specifically mention the issue when announcing the new position, she did allude to a desire to improve the nightlife economy across all Boston neighborhoods. 

“Boston's communities are already abundant with resources and this unique role will allow me to liaise between the Wu Administration and the flourishing business community, to strengthen and amplify the communities and businesses that already exist in Boston, while identifying new opportunities to expand connectivity, access, and equity amongst Boston’s diverse population," Reynolds said in a statement earlier this month.

This new position offers the opportunity for Boston to improve the economy of its post-pandemic social scene. Like many major cities, the pandemic was a big hit to bars and restaurants as tourism declined and locals stayed in. Three years later, many businesses are still struggling to recover to pre-pandemic levels of income. Enabling these businesses to expand their operating hours through the improvement of late-night transportation and safety across the city, is a way to boost the economy of local businesses. 

For many Boston residents, this is a positive step that offers hope for a future with more widespread nightlife options. This is especially true for the large population of college students that live in the city. With 35 colleges and universities within the city limits, Boston is home to over 100,000 college students, many of whom rely on the city for late-night entertainment and transportation. Improving the nightlife economy of Boston is a win for businesses, the tourism industry, and students. Now it is only a matter of time to see what Corean Reynolds is able to do in her new position and if she can really make an impact on the culture of the city. 

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