Governing the Night-Time City: The Rise of Night Mayors as a New Form of Urban Governance After Dark

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The urban night has traditionally been a regimented space characterized by strict policing and surveillance. Early research on the night-time economy documented the expansion of nightlife from a centrepiece of culture-led redevelopment strategies in post-industrial cities, to the introduction of a broad governance apparatus to manage the agglomeration of night-time activity. Over the past two decades, a new actor has emerged: more than 40 cities have appointed night mayors or individuals responsible for maintaining nocturnal vibrancy, while mediating between those who wish to work, party or sleep. This article summarizes the results of a qualitative study that gathered information on the origins, propagation and geographic variations in the role to provide a first comprehensive look at this position. Data from 35 night mayors and night-time advocacy organizations from around the world revealed that, though cities differ greatly in their approach towards night-time infrastructure and regulation, there seems to be growing consensus on the need for permanent nocturnal governance structures. By encouraging greater dialogue and experimentation, these structures are challenging traditional approaches to urban governance and paving the way for a new wave of studies on the urban night.

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