Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May 1st is Moving Day (or at least it used to be)

May 1st used to be the day that yearly apartment leases ended, resulting in a fury of chaotic furniture relocation known as Moving Day.   The April 25, 1897 New York Tribune insert below gently lampoons the event.

This was really the worst traffic day in New York each year, as thousands of people shuffled around with their possessions.  The first moving services for hire were essentially Long Island farmers with wagons to rent.

"High rents, incommodious dwellings, & necessity combine to crowd our streets with carts overloaded with furniture & hand barrows with sofas, chairs, sideboards, looking glasses & pictures, so as to render the sidewalks almost impassable," said John Pintard in 1833.

So what happened to Moving Day?  The subway changes everything, basically, as did the construction of new homes in boroughs outside of Manhattan.   By 1913, the Evening World discovered: "[t]he rapid transit facilities have enabled hundreds to move further out, and east side landlords say they have more vacant apartments than ever before. Hence rents are cheaper and fewer are unable to pay up."

Somebody should tell JL Kesner's Department Store on Sixth Avenue between 22nd and 23rd Streets. Their 1913 advertisement in that same issue featured the following:



  1. Are you guys getting many of the old newspaper clips that you post on the blog from the NY Public library archives, or from the web? As this New Yorker now lives in So. Cal. can I find old articles like these as you two do?

    Since discovering you guys late last year, I finally got caught up on all the podcasts and now cannot wait until the next new one that I will listen to at work this week. YAY!!!!! I am wanting to start re-listening to some of MY favs and they are all train related.

    Are there some things that still exist in Queens that have any history to it? Just wondering.

    Thanks to you both for this fun walk back in time to the greatest city in this country: NYC!!!!!!!!!

    "You can take the New Yorker out of New York, but you will NEVER take the New York out of the New Yorker".

    Rich Pollock
    A Proud New Yorker on the west coast.

  2. Haha! I love the old ad at the end. I wonder if they used interstate moving companies back in the day. I'm sure it would make moving a whole lot easier!

  3. Wow! Most people know May 1 is Labour Day. Anyway, this is new information for the readers. Thanks for sharing it.