Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Moving Day in New York

Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Moving Day 1831
Loretta reports:

This post about New York City’s Moving Day was supposed to appear on May Day, but my brain experienced a technical error, and I posted fashions instead.  We're going to pretend my OCD brain doesn’t care if I don’t post on the exact date, and direct you instead to this interesting saga.

Apparently starting in New York’s colonial era, 1 May was designated Moving Day.  This was because all the rental agreements expired on the same day, and landlords inevitably raised the rent, and so…

…everybody moved.  This practice, which foreigners found very strange, indeed, continued until after WWII.

Rather than rephrase a story told and illustrated beautifully elsewhere, I’ll simply direct you to two excellent accounts:

Moving Day, an online exhibit, and the fascinating entry at Wikipedia: Moving Day, New York City.


Karen said...

That's hysterical. What really strikes me, though, is that people went to the country for five whole months during the summer. As a NYC dweller who rarely gets away, I am SO envious. Those were the days!

meganh said...

Moving day might no longer be the practice in New York, but it is alive and well in the province of Quebec:

I've heard that booking a moving van is a nightmare.

Debbie Watley said...

I've read about a similar moving day for farm renters in Southern Iowa as recently as the 1950s. If I remember correctly, the Iowa one may have taken place in March or April, probably right before planting started.

Unknown said...

March 1 in northwestern Iowa. That was also the standard date for farm leases and was treated as the start of the crop year. At least in the 1950s.

Debbie Watley said...


I bet many had to move in very rainy or snowy weather, and on either icy or muddy roads. That would not have been fun.

Unknown said...

We still have moving day in Boston. Sept 1. It's not legislated. It just is.

Anonymous said...

It was the same in 18th century Netherlands, may 1st was moving day!
Interesting blog you write, I'm looking forward to it every day!

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