We know the positives that come from safety, mobility, proximity, commerce, and interaction -- perhaps it's time for more formal measures
If "cities, like cats, will reveal themselves at night," as the English poet Rupert Brooke suggests, then how many of us should fear for our safety in the urban darkness? Is a nighttime city better measured by the numbers, rather than by such human perception and poetry?
In my view, first noted here, Brooke's poetry is a worthy start. His feline analogy creates the framework for five important qualities of 24-hour, magnetic places. The first, safety, spurs four more -- mobility, proximity, commerce, and interaction.
We know the positives from these qualities: legendary, all-night coding jags in the technology sector, vibrant nightlife, and night markets, to name a few. All can enable more robust evening public transit service and police presence through a credible political voice lobbying for still more.
While metrics may not be necessary to frame the look and feel of a successful city at night, more formal measures might further structure inspirational images of vibrance over emptiness.
Perhaps it is time for a moniker -- a "lumens score" or "urban illumination index" -- to add to the indicators of a 24-hour city, something characteristic of the creative metropolitan meccas called for by the vanguard of today's urbanist advocates.