You can’t really tell from the photo above, because it turns out I’m much better with an audio recorder than a digital camera, but this is a picture of Little West 12th Street in Manhattan’s Meat Packing district. I snapped this shot at 2:30 in the morning on a recent Saturday night. And the place was hopping. There were dozens of people wandering between clubs and bars on this corner, and this was just the tip of the iceberg.
Throughout the city there are bars, clubs, and restaurants regularly open until 4:00am or later. There’s a reason they call New York the city that never sleeps. But what happens when you live next to a club that’s blasting music all night long? There are a series of community boards that represent Manhattan residents who have been pressuring new liquor license applicants to close up shop at 2:00am or at least to better police what goes on inside and outside of their clubs. And while the number of liquor licensed establishments that are choosing to close early is still relatively small, the community board recommendations have gained so much weight with the state liquor authority that it’s getting hard to open a bar without getting approval from one of these boards.
For my latest NPR story I tried to look at both sides of this issue. There’s been a lot of reporting in the local press over the last few weeks. But for the most part reporters talked to one community board member and the lawyer for the New York Nightlife association. I talked to them both, but also headed out way past my bedtime to find some of the people who enjoy New York’s nightlife scene and find out what they think. My editor also pushed me to actually find someone who lives next to some of these noisy bars, and I’m glad she did because that made the story a lot stronger. All told, I conducted 5 sets of interviews for this short story and had to leave a lot of things out. But I’m pretty happy with the way things turned out.
For anyone keeping track, this piece was recorded with a Sony PCM-D50 digital audio recorder and an Electrovoice RE-50 dynamic microphone.