New York City is always shifting, as new people arrive with suitcases stuffed with hope and ambition, replacing others who have packed up and moved on.
It’s now a distant memory, but the transience of our city was once a collective experience. For some 300 years, on every May 1, practically all city dwellers would chuck their belongings onto pushcarts and horse-drawn carriages and haul them to a new home.
But when housing shortages gripped the city in the 1940s and rent control as we know it was implemented, Moving Day — a Colonial holdover grounded in the English celebration of May Day — faded into oblivion. And while we no longer move en masse, the majority of New Yorkers continue to rent, and move, frequently.
As many of us know, the experience is rarely enjoyable. There is the physical exertion of packing and unpacking; the disappointment of finding broken dinner china or cracked piano legs, and that feeling of dismay when you survey your worldly goods reduced to a truck full of cardboard boxes. It would certainly be a relief to simply walk out of your old house and have it replicated, down to the order of your spice rack, somewhere new. And it turns out that for those who are willing to pay, Walt Disney was right after all: Dreams do come true.