Moving pt. 2: The appealing informality of the city

Despite yesterday's semi-grumbling about the challenges of moving apartments in the city, it exemplifies something about the urban environment that you just don't get out in the sprawling hinterland. Unlike that highly programmed and structured way of life (yes, some of those stereotypes of the fifties do seem to ring true), in the city, you get much greater spontaneity, informal economy, and fluidity.  In other words, cities offer a pleasant escape from the restrictive rules and norms of the suburbs.

notice there's no driver in that truck
First of all, I was able to ride my bicycle from the old apartment to the moving-truck rental in a matter of ten minutes.  And though space in the city is limited, it's apparently been deemed OK to store moving trucks in the middle of Washington Avenue, which I think is pretty remarkable, and something you'd never see in the burbs (or most other American cities for that matter, I'd suspect).  I tossed my bike the the truck, went back to the apartment, loaded up the truck, moved it, unloaded it, then took the truck back with bicycle in tow, and was able to ride back to our new apartment, again, in less than ten minutes.

eat your heart out, craigslist
Now, sometimes there are some things that you just don't feel like moving again... that desk with the drawer that won't open, the hand-me-down dresser that was never quite your style, or the kitchen table you've just had enough of. In many circumstances this would involve finding a friend or family member to take it off your hands, taking it to the dump, or illegally dumping on the sidewalk or worse yet, in a park.  In our dense residential neighborhood, on the other hand we put four no-longer-wanted pieces of furniture on the sidewalk on trash night, stuck a note on it, and put out notice on craigslist that we were giving away furniture.  Within twenty minutes, some of our next door neighbors came upon our stuff, decided they liked a couple of the items, and made them their own. By the time we walked by the next morning (before the trash truck came), the other two items had been scooped up.  It was remarkably easy for us to get rid of old items, and for others to make them their new ones.  Thats a product not just of density, but a fine grained development scale that fosters such interaction.  Pretty cool.

just make sure you tip nicely
After moving, you've always got to go back for that final cleaning, and that often involves a few straggling items, not just a vinegar wash of the wood floor.  In the suburbs, these last items are easy to put in a car, and might seem challenging when carless in the city.  We thought about getting a bicycle wagon or schlepping everything back and forth, but then suddenly remembered the often forgotten taxi - another convenience made possible by density.  In my eyes, it's not an official move until you ask a  cabby to pop the trunk and toss in your vaccuum, trash can, and last duffle back of knicknacks.

There's something organic, fluid, and wonderful about cities... and the economist I play in my armchair says that's a mighty good competitive advantage.