Seattle, Washington, and St. Louis, Missouri. There's not much the>"/>
Updated with the City Council resolution and additional details from the Mayor's office.
Seattle, Washington, and St. Louis, Missouri. There's not much the two cities have in common, save for a whole lot of people employed by Boeing. The Midwestern metropolis, oft-labeled "The Most Dangerous City in America," is known not only for its rampant crime problem, but also de facto segregation, failing public schools, urban decay, and a generally backwards-ass way of doing things. (On the other hand, they do love them some Cardinals baseball.) Yet, if the über-progressive Emerald City is seeking to allow drinking at bars into the wee hours of the morning, there's no better example they could follow than the one set by STL.
Seattle finally seems serious about repealing its antiquated blue laws, the draconian restrictions on booze imposed by the State's Liquor Control Board. This morning (right about now, actually), Mayor McGinn, City Attorney Pete Holmes, and City Councilmember Tim Burgess are holding a press conference to announce their plans to start the process to get the state to allow bars to serve liquor after 2 a.m., the current statewide cutoff.
McGinn has said previously that such a change--which would likely include staggered closing times--has the counter-intuitive potential to reduce late-night crime, noise, and rowdy behavior. The idea is that bars would no longer be pushing all their belligerent drunks into the street at the same time. Having spent the last three years living in St. Louis, home to some of the nation's most permissive liquor laws, including staggered last-call times of 1:30 and 3 a.m., I can vouch that there is certainly some truth to this theory.
The vast majority of bars in the Big Muddy shut down at 1:30 a.m. Just like in Seattle, in the popular nightlife areas, that means a whole lot of tipsy people flooding the sidewalks. The key difference is that in St. Louis, each neighborhood has at least one 3 a.m. bar so that those who want to keep the party going have a refuge, and at least in theory, a place to sober up a bit before heading home. (The most hardcore drinkers eventually make their way across the Mississippi River to the tiny town of Sauget, Illinois, where the beer flows 24/7.)
Not only does this system give St. Louis a vibrant nightlife, it rakes in dough for the city. The 3 a.m. licenses are more expensive, and the increased alcohol sales generate significant tax revenue. The only flaw is the utter lack of taxis and public transit, which results in everybody and their brother driving drunk at the end of the night. In Seattle, that problem could easily be remedied if Metro extended bus service hours to mirror the new bar hours.
But now we're getting ahead of ourselves. No matter how many Seattle politicians and citizens support late-night drinking, the city is still at the mercy of the Liquor Control Board, and the booze bureaucrats have staunchly opposed extended bar hours in the past.
Update: See the documents below for the City Council resolution proposing extended nightlife hours, as well as background on the city's proposal to the liquor control board and the official press release from McGinn's officeSeattle Extended Bar Hours