Discover Why New York Is Known As The “City That Never Sleeps”

Written by Sam Hindman
Published: November 13, 2023
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There is perhaps no other city in the United States with such a colorful history than that of New York, New York. (So nice, you say it twice!) A conglomeration of businessmen, aspiring artists, and lovable eccentrics, this is a difficult population to define by a mere nickname. However, there is one that certainly comes close. In this article, we’ll fill you in on why exactly New York is called the “City That Never Sleeps.” Not only will we tell you its origins, but we’ll also detail just how accurate the nickname is. For now, let’s just say this- It’s certainly an earned title.

Why is New York Known As The “City That Never Sleeps”?

New York City skyline viewed from Liberty Park with benches in foreground

With its 24/7 subway system and late-night venues, it’s no wonder why NYC is known as the “City That Never Sleeps”!

©Mary Salen/iStock via Getty Images

Having a nickname like the “City That Never Sleeps” sets quite the precedent about what life in New York is like. Though it shouldn’t be taken literally (the residents try their best to get some shut-eye in) it makes sense that the moniker was given to NYC. For starters, their subway system is 24/7, never closing. This differs from the majority of other US cities, whose public transportation has strict shut-down times.

The subway isn’t the only thing that closes late, either. In New York, you can expect to find eateries and coffee shops that stay open into the wee hours of the night. Though many of them now close sooner, it used to be quite common to find places that were open until 12:30 AM. This change occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is likely to stay the norm.

But, that’s not even where the popular phrase came from! It might be how it was thought up, but it wasn’t until the 1977 hit “Theme From New York, New York” came out that people used it to describe this particular city. Many people know it well due to Frank Sinatra’s rendition, but the original piece was performed by none other than Broadway favorite Liza Minnelli.

The Downside of Living In a 24/7 City

The bright lights of Manhattan in tandem with the exciting late-night hangouts might be the dream of every New York tourist, but it’s more like a nightly dose of headaches and torture for those who reside there. Having ceaseless commotion happen outside of your window day in and day out is likely no walk in the park. Siena College Research Institute has the stats to back up that claim.

In a study conducted in 2018 analyzing some of the sleep habits of New Yorkers, there were some jarring results. Although, these findings go right along with the city’s catchy nickname. Of the 802 random citizens polled, it seems that a mere 24% get eight hours of sleep per night. Even worse, nearly half of all those polled get six hours or less. It seems like the city isn’t the only thing that never sleeps, am I right?

If you’re wondering how these New York citizens are able to stand upright with so little sleep, the answer is some good old-fashioned caffination. According to the same study, 42% of New York residents partake in daily coffee drinking. Of that group, 60% have more than one cup per day.

New York City, Urban Skyline, City, USA, Cityscape

There are a number of nicknames that the iconic New York City is known by.

©iStock.com/TomasSereda

New York is known for a number of things- theatre, nightlife, and great food, to list a few. One thing that many don’t realize about the city, however, is that it’s rarely referred to by its actual name! The number of nicknames that New York has is long, but below are a few of the highlights.

  • Big Apple: Other than being called the “City That Never Sleeps,” New York is also referred to as the “Big Apple.” Surely, if you’ve been to the city, you’ve seen a number of pieces of merchandise with this logo. The nickname originated from an old newspaper column regarding racehorses, but it didn’t become prominent until it was picked up in an advertising campaign in the 70s.
  • Empire City: The exact origin of this nickname is up for debate. Some believe that it came from a quote by none other than the first US President George Washington. Others, however, think that the name came from the title of an 1836 news article. In the article, New York was referenced as the “Empire City of The World” because of its mass population.
  • Gotham: If you’re a Batman fan, then you probably recognize this name as Bruce Wayne’s home city. But, how does this relate to New York? Well, Gotham was originally named after Manhattan. The comic book creator decided that he wanted a name that was more universal and nonspecific. Thus, Gotham was born! Since then, New Yorkers have become quite taken with the name.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © StockByM/iStock via Getty Images


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About the Author

Sam Hindman is a writer at A-Z animals covering a range of topics, including pet care, plant care, pest control and travel destinations. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Multimedia Studies at Point Park University, set to graduate in the spring of 2024. A resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when she isn't writing, she's spending time with her beloved cat Archie.

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