Chicago Block Parties

Neighbors get to know neighbors by volunteering at their local summer block party.

It’s a cliche, but Chicago is a city of neighborhoods. Chicagoans identify themselves by their neighborhoods and the annual tradition of summer block parties is one way they build that identity.

Every summer weekend in Chicago finds block closures around the city as neighbors come out and throw a party right on the street. The city provides security, some recreation – usually an inflatable jumping place for the children – and even portable bathrooms.

Neighbors themselves make the food and provide the beverages. At least one neighbor is always an amateur DJ and sets up a sound system, which entertains other neighbors for blocks around (whether they want it or not).

A block party near my office in the Pilsen neighborhood yesterday included meat smoking on the grill, basketball hoops, an improvised soccer “field,” and volleyball. Right on the street.

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