Living in Fairmount Has Never Been So Annoying

Between Fourth of July celebrations, the Barnes opening and Jay-Z's Made in America festival, it might be time to get out of the neighborhood.

When I was growing up, my neighborhood hosted an excellent display of fireworks every Fourth of July. We’d trek up to the Lawncrest Rec Center’s giant softball fields with our beach chairs and picnic blankets tucked under our arms, hours before twilight to secure a good spot to watch the show. And so would everyone else in Northeast Philly, approximately 80 bazillion people.

When it was over, my friends and I would trudge home, exhausted from sitting out in the heat for so long. We’d plop down on the front stoop of my best friend Taylor’s house and pop open sodas to refuel, because the night had only just begun. The fireworks were but an appetizer for the main course: watching hundreds of cars line up in traffic to crawl out of our neighborhood and back to their own. Each year, it became a bigger spectator sport as we bet on how long it would it take for the frustration to devolve into non-stop honking. Would it eventually annoy someone enough to start screaming out their window? Would there be fist fights? Would the traffic clear up before midnight?

I used to think back fondly on these memories, thinking it was a simpler time. And then I moved to Fairmount, home of the city’s largest Fourth of July celebration. Suddenly my once-a-year traffic issue seems downright dull.

Year after year, my neighborhood becomes an insufferable place to exist for the days surrounding Independence Day. Don’t get me wrong: I love my neighborhood dearly. I frequent lots of small businesses and have started building great relationships with my neighbors. I love being close enough to Center City that I can walk to work when the weather is nice, but far enough away that I feel like I’m escaping the office at the end of the day. And I adore Fourth of July’s traditions of fireworks and parades and hot dogs. I’m all about having a day off from work that doesn’t involve gift-giving.

But the celebrations can get a tad annoying for people who live near the party hub. The constant interruptions to the normal flow of street and sidewalk traffic are just the tip of the iceberg. Don’t even try to move your car between June 30th and July 5th—you’ll never, ever get a spot within a five mile radius of your front door. Walking around—say, home after watching the fireworks on the Parkway—provides its own unique challenges because it becomes a contact sport: you versus every other person who has ever lived in Philadelphia, all decked out with day-glo necklaces. And don’t leave your flower boxes out front of your rowhome—they’ll fill up with trash (or worse) as drunk tourists wander back to their vehicles to sit in their own traffic nightmare.

Thankfully, Fourth of July comes but once a year.

Except this summer is shaping up to be a non-stop barrage of non-residents to Fairmount thanks to the opening of the Barnes Museum and Jay-Z’s Made in America music festival. Fairmounters can look forward to never, ever being able to park their cars on the street and dodging tourists snapping photos of the hideous Barnes Totem ‘round the clock. Those living closer to the Art Museum should anticipate days of annoying sound checks before Made in America. (Just ask anyone who lives in the Philadelphian at 2401 Pennsylvania Avenue what it was like the day Philly tried to set the record for world’s longest Soul Train line.)

Believe me, I understand why it totally rules that Jay-Z wants to bring all his closest celebrity friends to hang out in Philadelphia for a weekend. But it’s going to be exhaustingly irritating and I’ll be relieved when September rolls around.

At least until Terror Behind the Walls starts up again.