B1 Intermediate UK 4319 Folder Collection
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Compared with 24-hour cities such as New York and Berlin, London shuts up shop early. The
reasons go back a long way. London has a history of mass commuting; many workers preferred
to meet friends for happy hour drinks than party into the wee hours. Britain’s old
licensing laws meant that most drinking dens closed at around 11pm, and the tube stops
running shortly after midnight. Getting home late at night is expensive or time consuming.
And for years, London’s population was in steady decline.
But times are changing. These days nocturnal Londoners can go to a fancy restaurant, work
out at a gym and even get a haircut all through the night. Liberal licensing regulations arrived
a decade ago, making it easier for people to indulge in late-night drinking. Between
1999 and 2013 the number of night-bus routes doubled, and the annual number of passengers
more than tripled. And from next September, the London Underground is set to run through
the night at weekends.
So, why is this happening? Demography is a factor. Since 1991 the number of young people
in London–those most likely to demand late-night options–has risen faster than any other
group. Foreigners used to late-night merrymaking make up a greater proportion of London’s
residents. And an increasing share of the workforce do nightshifts; half of all night-bus
passengers are travelling to or from work.
The demand for a late-night London is growing, and businesses and legislators are responding
to it. With infrastructure planned to make a 24-hour London possible, why would Londoners
ever sleep?
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Why London took so long to become a 24-hour city

4319 Folder Collection
Una Chuang published on June 1, 2015
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