Explore Why New York is Known as The “City That Never Sleeps”

New York may have the most colorful history in the US. So wonderful, you repeat it! A mix of businesspeople, aspiring artists, and endearing eccentrics, this group is hard to label. There is one that gets close.

This article explains why New York is called the “City That Never Sleeps.” We’ll explain its origins and how accurate the term is. Let’s just say it’s a well-deserved title.

Why is New York referred to be the “city that never sleeps”?

A nickname like “City That Never Sleeps” establishes a strong expectation of what living in New York is like. Though it should not be taken literally (the locals do their best to catch some shut-eye), it is understandable that the moniker was given to NYC. For starters, their subway system never closes. This contrasts with the majority of other US cities, where public transportation has rigid shut-down times.

The metro is not the only item that closes late. In New York, you can find restaurants and coffee shops that stay up until the small hours of the night. Though many of them now close earlier, it was formerly usual to locate venues that were open until 12:30 AM. This alteration happened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to continue.

Explore Why New York is Known as The "City That Never Sleeps"

But that’s not where the common term originated! It may have been how it was conceived, but it wasn’t until the 1977 hit “Theme From New York, New York” that it was used to describe this specific metropolis. Many people are familiar with Frank Sinatra’s version, but the original was performed by Broadway legend Liza Minnelli.

The Cons of Living in a 24/7 City

The brilliant lights of Manhattan, along with exciting late-night hangouts, maybe the fantasy of every New York tourist, but it’s more like a nightly dosage of migraines and misery for those who call it home. Having constant commotion outside your window on a daily basis is unlikely to be a pleasant experience. The Siena College Research Institute has the statistics to back up this allegation.

A study conducted in 2018 that examined some of New Yorkers’ sleep habits yielded some startling results. However, these findings are consistent with the city’s memorable nickname. Of the 802 random residents polled, it appears that only 24% receive eight hours of sleep each night. Even worse, over half of those polled receive six hours or fewer. It appears that the city isn’t the only thing that never sleeps, am I correct?

If you’re wondering how these New Yorkers manage to stand upright with such little sleep, the answer is some good old-fashioned caffeine.
The same poll found that 42% of New York residents consume coffee every day. Of those groups, 60% drink more than one cup every day.

Other Popular New York Nicknames

Explore Why New York is Known as The "City That Never Sleeps"

New York is well-known for a variety of activities, including theater, nightlife, and delicious food. Many people are unaware that the city is rarely referred to by its original name! New York has numerous nicknames, but here are a handful of the most well-known.

  • Big Apple: Aside from being known as the “City That Never Sleeps,” New York is also known as the “Big Apple.” If you’ve gone to the city, you’ve probably seen a few pieces of stuff featuring this logo. The moniker came from an old newspaper column about racehorses, but it didn’t gain popularity until it was used in an advertisement campaign in the 1970s.
  • Empire City: The exact origin of this nickname is debatable. Some claim it was derived from a quote by none other than the first US President, George Washington. Others believe the name originates from the title of an 1836 newspaper story. The article referred to New York as the “Empire City of the World” due to its large population.
  • Gotham: If you’re a Batman fan, you’ve certainly heard of this city, which is home to Bruce Wayne. But how does this apply to New York? Well, Gotham was initially called after Manhattan. The comic book writer decided he wanted a moniker that was more general and vague. Thus, Gotham was born! Since then, the name has grown in popularity among New Yorkers.


New York, dubbed the “City That Never Sleeps” from the 1977 hit “Theme From New York, New York,” reflects its vibrant and lively atmosphere. Despite the charm, a study reveals disrupted sleep for residents, with only 24% getting eight hours nightly. Other nicknames include “Big Apple,” “Empire City,” and “Gotham.”


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