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Summer's winding down—time to throw a block party?

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A block party is a tried-and-true method of cementing the kind of connections that give a neighborhood its character—not to mention a great way to have one last summer hurrah as fall looms. And CityLab reports that PlanPhilly, a website that covers design, planning, and development in Philadelphia, has found a way to track block parties throughout the city, revealing which zip codes are the most celebratory. 

PlanPhilly's maps visualize ten years of data tracking block parties, revealing that Philadelphians have thrown 68,553 of them since 2006. This seems like quite a lot for a city of under 2 million people; the frequency of such DIY shindigs might be explained by the fact that applying to throw them is a breeze. Locals need only get approval from 75 percent of the households on their block, submit an application, and pay a $25 fee ($60 if they're applying less than 21 days ahead of time). Plus, they can party even if their application is received only five days before the planned event. 

In NYC, by contrast, the process is much more involved. According to the Street Activity Permit Office, New Yorkers must apply at least 90 days ahead of time, be a member of a block association, get their neighbors' permission, and pay a $25.62 fee.

Plus, depending on where you live, you may also need approval from your local community board. Community Board 1 in Queens, for instance, requires that applicants submit block party petitions to its office in person; Community Board 2 in Brooklyn, meanwhile, asks for documentation that includes a letter of introduction stating the applicant's relationship to the community. (For a thorough overview of the ins and outs of getting your block party off the ground, check out New York Magazine's explainer.) 

Despite the labyrinthine procedures they must follow to throw a small community bash, New Yorkers are apparently undaunted: NYC Open Data reveals that 200 block parties will be thrown across all five boroughs in the month of August alone. And the most celebratory borough? Brooklyn, which accounts for 114 of the local gatherings. 

It's too late now, if you haven't already, to schedule a shindig for your own block before the summer's over, but take heart: The fall season brings with it plenty of street fairs, ranging from the Brazilian Day Festival to the Flatbush Frolic. 

And if it's civic pride that you're interested in, consider joining your block association, or starting one if it doesn't yet exist. Through these organizations, you can give back to the neighborhood and advocate for yourself and neighbors when problems arise. Citizens NYC has a guide to forming them here. Or, check out Love Your Block, which gives $1,000 grants to residents who want to beautify their blocks.  

 

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