The first day of May used to be absurdly chaotic for New Yorkers, for it was “Moving Day”—the once a year tradition when nearly a million tenants across the city swapped homes.
Up until the end of World War 2, all leases expired simultaneously on May 1, causing everyone to change their residences, all at the same time. The landlords gave their tenants a 3-month notice informing them what the new rent would be after the end of the quarter. That day, February 1, was sometimes called “Rent Day”. If the tenant agreed to the new terms and the new rent, they stayed. If they couldn’t afford the rent hike, they started looking for new houses. Tenants usually waited until the very last day to vacate their old premises, resulting in utter chaos on the streets that can only be imagined.
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