Philadelphia Block Parties Have Been in Mad Decline

Getting your block party application approved can be easier said than done.

A scene from a Philadelphia block party in 2007, back in the days when it was much easier to get your Philadelphia block party application approved (photo via Flickr/Creative Commons)

A scene from a Philadelphia block party in 2007, back in the days when it was much easier to get your Philadelphia block party application approved (photo via Angelo Yap/Flickr/Creative Commons license)

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Philadelphia Block Parties Are In Mad Decline

So you want to have a block party in Philadelphia? Hire a DJ and the person who brings the moon bounce? Break out your oil drum grill and cook up a bunch of chicken and ribs? Sounds like a fabulous idea. But first, you’ll have to jump through some hoops with the city.

First, you need to get buy-in from your neighbors. That means starting a petition and getting signatures from 75 percent of the households on the block. One signature per household. Ideally, you’ll submit your Philadelphia block party application at least 21 days in advance. If so, you’ll pay a $25 fee. But if you’re a procrastinator, $60. (Your permit has to be issued within five days of your block party, so it sounds like you shouldn’t bother applying less than two weeks in advance.) And your block party must end by 8:30 p.m.

Those are the basics. But then comes the city’s approval process. And a stamp of approval is by no means guaranteed. Your block party application goes to your local police district for consideration. If it clears that hurdle, then the Streets Department gets involved.

Your block party application could be denied for a few different reasons. The Philadelphia Police Department might say no to your block party due to the potential for “criminal activity.” Or the Streets Department might decide against it due to scheduled construction or traffic issues.

Philadelphia used to have lots of block parties. But those numbers have gone way down over the years. The peak for block party applications approved in recent history was 2008, when Philadelphia approved 7,679 block party applications. By 2019, that number went way down, to 3,506, according to this Axios report. Last year? 2,284. So far this year, per Axios, the city has denied 56 out of 677 block party applications due to concerns over crime. And others were denied for other reasons.

The neighborhoods hit hardest with block party denials have historically been in North and West Philadelphia. And neighborhood activists and some politicians have argued that it is these very neighborhoods that need the block parties for community engagement and connection.

But it’s not just government officials who are to blame for the decline in block parties. People are also just applying less for the permits. Last year, there were just about 2,500 applications. That’s fewer than one third of the approved block parties in 2008.

In the end, you could always do what my neighbors in West Philadelphia have done every year for the last 10 years. They don’t apply for a permit. They just block off their street — granted, it’s a smaller side street — with yellow caution tape and sometimes vehicles, and then dance and moonbounce well into the night. Nobody bothers them. And they don’t bother anybody. The way it should be.

If you wish to go the legit route, you can fill out an application here. Good luck!

It’s Official: UArts Has Closed

Friday was the last day in the life of the nearly 150-year-old institution. More than 600 people are now out of work. So many students left without a school. Truly a sad state of affairs.

It’s Official: Verizon Hall Is Now Marian Anderson Hall

In a bit of better arts news, the Kimmel Center has officially renamed Verizon Hall after Marian Anderson, the great Philadelphia singer.

It’s Official: Time to Put the AC In the Window

If you, like me, wait as long as you possibly can to install your window AC units (I’ve held out until Fourth of July weekend), you should probably get them in by Thursday, when temperatures are expected to hit the 90s. Same for Friday. And Monday. Your other option, which I thoroughly endorse, is to go to the Jersey Shore, where it’s looking like the mid to high 70s for the next 10 days. If you choose that path (and you should!), consult our new Jersey Shore dining guide for the best places to eat.

ICYMI: West Philly Porchfest

What was I doing on Saturday? Feting my son, who graduated from high school that day. Had that not been the case, I most definitely would have been at West Philly Porchfest, the Best of Philly-winning DIY music festival that brings droves of music lovers to the streets of West Philly to watch musicians perform from porches, lawns and sidewalks. WHYY has a photo recap that gives you some of the flavor. If you missed it, West Philly isn’t the only neighborhood to get in on the Porchfest idea. The Manayunk/Roxborough area (aka RoxYunk) now has its own Porchfest, scheduled for October. Should you want to start a Porchfest in your neighborhood, here’s what you need to know.

By the Numbers: The Phillies In London Edition

45-20: The Phillies record after splitting the two-game London series against the Mets. The Phils have a nine-game grasp on first place in the National League East and the best winning percentage in all of MLB (the Yankees have one more win but also one more loss). Next up? A three-game series against the Red Sox in Boston, beginning Tuesday. We’re not playing at home until next Monday, when the Padres, presently 34-35, come a callin’. Sit behind first base for $87.

£114: Cost of this fugly Mets-Phillies combo logo button-down shirt that fans could buy in London. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a good fight at Citizens Bank Park. But if you wear this to the ballpark in September, when the Phillies next face the Mets at home, you might be asking for a beatdown. The question is, will the beatdown come at the hands of a Phillies fan or a Mets fan? Or, in a rare instance of solidarity between the two fanbases, both?

18: Time zones the Phillies crossed between their late May series in Colorado and their return to the United States on Sunday, according to an interview Phillies manager Rob Thomson gave the Associated Press. “That can put a lot of stress on your body, for a player, so we’re concerned about it,” Thomson told the AP. “Everything we can do we’re trying to get it done so that they dont get hurt.”

Local Talent

Speaking (ad nauseam) of the Phillies in London … Philly son and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia creator and star Rob McElhenney was on hand. But not just on hand. McElhenney and his wife, Always Sunny co-star Kaitlin Olson, teamed up with Chase Utley (McElhenney’s next door neighbor in Los Angeles) and Bryce Harper for the first pitch, which became the world’s first ceremonial 6-4-3 double play. Avid Always Sunny viewers know that the moment played upon a plot point in one of the most popular episodes of the show.

And Overbrook High School grad Will Smith saw his latest Bad Boys sequel (talk about ad nauseam) claim first place at the box office on its opening weekend, raking in $56 million in domestic box office sales. Tack on another $48.6 million overseas, and it’s already sailed north of $104 million. It looks like it will be a while before we see Smith on the big screen again. His next movies, which include a Planes, Trains and Automobiles remake with Kevin Hart and the I Am Legend sequel we don’t need, are all in pre-production.