By WBZ-TV's Jonathan Elias

BOSTON (CBS) – There are more liquor licenses than ever in downtown Boston and nightlife is booming, but some of the people living downtown aren’t too happy about it.

To see why, all you have to do is take a look at what the i-Team’s cameras captured at closing time on weekend nights.

Our video shows hundreds of noisy bar patrons spilling out onto the streets, police and ambulances everywhere, street fights, many very intoxicated people, and noisy, boisterous crowds blocking traffic.

WBZ-TV’s Jonathan Elias reports

And it’s a scene played out downtown just about every weekend.

“Absolutely atrocious, unforgivable, improper, anti-societal conduct,” says Tom Dwyer, a lawyer and former prosecutor who lives in the Ritz Tower, which is in the middle of the city’s party zone.

“There are fights, there are people falling down and getting sick,” Dwyer says. “On the vast amount of nights it’s just mayhem.”

That mayhem is described in hundreds of police reports and dealt with at weekly hearings held by the Boston Licensing Board, where bar owners are called to task for trouble in and around their establishments.

The i-Team pored through licensing board records from the last three years and found: 185 assaults; 41 assaults with dangerous weapons, including guns, knives, baseball bats; 64 patrons over-served alcohol; and 37 large scale brawls.

Four years ago the state gave the city permission to give out 55 new liquor licenses, bringing the total to over a thousand for the first time.

That’s a financial boost to many local businesses, but begs the question: What has it done to the quality of life for people living downtown?

“We’re talking thousands of people living in this particular area who if they go out at night any one of these times, they’re going to face havoc,” Dwyer says.

Thousands of residents, indeed. The Boston Redevelopment Authority reports that the number of people living in downtown Boston has jumped 22 percent in the last decade.

“We’re just trying to keep the peace down here,” says Boston Police Captain Bernard O’Rourke, commander of the downtown district.

Asked about the disorder outside bars on weekend nights and its effect on downtown residents, O’Rourke says: “We do our best to deal with it. It’s something we deal with every single weekend down there.”

And the over-serving of alcohol is a big problem. “There’s clubs that really just don’t pay attention to it,” O’Rourke says.

Nicole Ferrer is the chairwoman of the Boston Licensing Board. She and Patricia Malone, the city’s director of Consumer Affairs and Licensing, mediate between the bar owners and the people who live downtown.

“We do our best to make sure that the licensees take every precaution to make sure these assault and batteries don’t happen,” Ferrer says.

Adds Malone: “These people know exactly what they moved into. Sometimes they’re on top of the licensed premises and so they’re willing to give the business a shot.”

Dwyer, who can see and hear the chaos from his condominium, says the problem is getting worse. “The culture promotes the notion to young kids that you cannot have a good Friday or Saturday night unless you go down to the city of Boston, go to some hot bar, and get drunk.”

Police acknowledge the bedlam at closing time is a drain on resources, but say for the last four years, downtown bar owners have been helping to pay for extra police on the street.

Comments (9)
  1. Meme says:

    Take away the liquor licenses and watch the crowds disappear. Oh wait…maybe they’ll go down to Occupy Boston and puke and take drugs with the rest of our upstanding citizens.

  2. Charlie says:

    Seriously…you choose to live in a major metropolitan downtown and are annoyed by the noise?

    Well, Chum, that’s pretty much part of the package you signed up for. If you don’t like it, move to the ‘burbs. Of course, then you’ll complain about the rush-hour traffic.

  3. Lynn says:

    There was only one resident of the building that was interviewed…. where are his neighbors complaining? I don’t feel bad for him… he’s got a chichi downtown residence. Surely the “issues” of the neighborhood were there long before his arrival. Buyer beware.

  4. Mark says:

    You chose to live downtown, what did you expect? Farmers? They move there for all the activity and nightlife but don’t want the downside of that.

    How about staggering the times that the bars close so you don’t have everyone being pushed out onto the street at the same time. Keep the trains running an extra hour later also.

  5. Wayne D. Clarke says:

    Perhaps opening up the trains after last call would be helpful so that all of us “drunks” aren’t standing outside waiting for cabs. When will this city wake up and realize that its own policies are creating these situations?

  6. r martin says:

    start bringing the paddy wagon and process a few dozen of these loudmouths who can’t handle their liquor.

  7. Rob says:

    Early Closing hours and the rollback of hours is only adding to the problem. People don’t even go out until 11PM or later, spend a mere two or three hours drinking and getting rowdy, then you dump them ALL out on the street? What do you think would happen if these bars and clubs stayed open until 3 or 4? Some patrons will leave early, some later, some will stay until the end. If they are able to leave when they are ready, most will just go home tired. That’s the way it should be. When you literally push people out on to the street this is what happens. I’ve seen hundreds of altercations happen that could have been avoided if a huge mass of people were not funneled into each other at 2AM. Stop serving alcohol at 2AM and allow people to dance until 3 or 4AM and see what happens.There will be less violence, less noise and way less intoxicated people driving. We’re not all looking to make more money and sell more liquor. The extended hours would save a lot of people from getting hurt night after night. Having accessible transportation at the end of the night would be a brilliant idea as well, but that will never change in Boston.