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The development of adjacent Forest Park, a park on the southern end of Forest Hills, began in 1895. Starting in 1896, the landscaping firm of Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot was contracted to provide a plan for the park.:469
In 1906, the Cord Meyer Development Company, headed by Brooklyn attorney Cord Meyer, bought abutting land made up of six farms (those of Ascan Bakus, Casper Joost-Springsteen, Horatio N. Squire, Abram V. S. Lott, Sarah V. Bolmer, and James Van Siclen). The company then renamed the aggregate 600 acres (240 ha) "Forest Hills", after Forest Park. Single-family homes, designed by architects such as Robert Tappan and William Patterson, were constructed on these 600 acres.:469 The roads of Forest Hills were laid out by 1910.:470 The present-day Ascan Avenue in Forest Hills is named after Ascan Bakus.
Margaret Sage, the founder of the Russell Sage Foundation, bought 142 acres (57 ha) of land from the Cord Meyer Development Company in 1908. This land was to be used for "Forest Hills Gardens", a development at the southern side of Forest Hills.:470Grosvenor Atterbury, a renowned architect, was given the commission to design Forest Hills Gardens. The neighborhood was planned on the model of the garden communities of England, with its own inn, garage, and post office. It also included narrow, winding roads to limit through traffic. As a result, there are many Tudor-style homes in Forest Hills. The more sprawling ones are located in Forest Hills Gardens, but most are located in the section loosely bounded by 68th Avenue on the north; 72nd Road on the south; 108th Street on the west; and Grand Central Parkway on the east.:470 The construction of this area used a prefabricated building technique; each house was built from approximately 170 standardized precast concrete panels, fabricated off-site and positioned by crane. The houses were mostly constructed between 1910 and 1917.:470
The Long Island Rail Road opened a station in Forest Hills in 1911, and the Queens Boulevard trolley line opened two years later. The LIRR station was built with a brick courtyard, a clock tower, and arch-filled underpasses, fitting in with the Forest Hills Gardens section of the neighborhood.:470 Since the railroad and trolley both connected to Manhattan, the presence of these two transportation options spurred development in Forest Hills.:469
In 1914, the West Side Tennis Club moved from Manhattan to Forest Hills Gardens.:469 They constructed the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, a stadium with approximately 13,000 seats, in 1923.:469 The U.S. Open and its predecessor national championships were held there until 1978, making Forest Hills synonymous with tennis for generations. Forest Hills also had a golfing presence for a short time. The Queens Valley Golf Club started constructing a golf course in the neighborhood in 1922 and it was open by 1924.:469 However, the club was closed in 1938 so that developers could build housing atop the site of the course.
Queens Boulevard was widened in the 1920s.:469 Planning for a Queens Boulevard subway line started around this time. There were proposals for two stations in Forest Hills: an express station serving all trains on 71st Avenue, and a local station at 75th Avenue. During the late 1920s, in anticipation of the arrival of the subway, land was bought by developers and was built up. Zoning laws were changed to allow fifteen-story apartment buildings to be built, and made the neighborhood of Forest Hills a more desirable place to live, especially as it was an express stop. Queens Borough President George Harvey predicted that the introduction of the subway to Forest Hills would turn Queens Boulevard into the "Park Avenue of Queens.":73 Excavation for the line started in 1931,:469 and the two subway stops in Forest Hills opened in 1936 along with six other stations on the Queens Boulevard line.
The population nearly doubled in the late 1920s, going from 9,500 residents in 1927 to 18,207 residents three years later. By 1940, after the subway opened, the population had increased to 32,500 residents.:469 By this time, development had largely stopped due to World War II, and about 25 empty lots in Forest Hills Gardens were developed after the war. At the same time, the single-family houses in Forest Hills were being razed to create new apartment buildings. The land in Forest Hills Gardens was fully developed by the 1960s, but there would still be empty lots in Forest Hills itself until the mid-1990s.:469-470
In 1972, residents protested against Forest Hills Houses, a proposed public housing development with three 24-story buildings at 62nd Drive and 108th Street. Middle-class residents believed that the public housing would depreciate the community's quality of life because poor residents would move into the housing. Advocates for the project accused residents of racism, since the proposed development's residents would be mostly people of minority races. Mayor John Lindsay garnered significant opposition due to the controversy surrounding Forest Hills Houses. Mario Cuomo, a lawyer and the future Governor of New York, was assigned to mediate the dispute and succeeded in halving the size of the project. The New York City Housing Authority ultimately implemented a rigorous screening process for prospective residents of Forest Hills Houses, with quotas for elderly and poorer tenants.:469
During the 1970s and 1980s, the neighborhood became more racially diverse. Discriminatory covenants for prospective Forest Hills Gardens residents were lifted, and immigrants from Iran, India, Israel, and the Soviet Union started residing in Forest Hills.:470
Post office, which displays a sports theme
Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Forest Hills was 86,364, an increase of 1,318 (1.5%) from the 85,046 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 1,328.22 acres (537.51 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 63.0 inhabitants per acre (40,300/sq mi; 15,600/km2).
Forest Hills has one of the highest percentage of residents working from home in the borough of Queens. Forest Hills has 4.4% of employed residents who work from home.
Historically, Forest Hills has had many Jewish residents. The border between Rego Park and Forest Hills is home to many Bukharan Jews, one of the largest populations of such in the world outside of Israel.
Forest Hills Gardens, part of Forest Hills
A church in Forest Hills Gardens
The southern part of Forest Hills contains a particularly diverse mixture of upscale housing, ranging from single-family houses, attached townhouses, and both low-rise and high-rise apartment buildings. South of the Long Island Rail Road, the Forest Hills Gardens area is a private community that features some of the most expensive residential properties in Queens County. It was subject to restrictive covenants until the 1970s, which contained no explicit economic, social or racial restrictions even if "working-class people" were said to be excluded by Eric P. Nash in a 2002 New York Times article, in his review of A Modern Arcadia. Forest Hills Gardens was named "Best Community" in 2007 by Cottage Living Magazine. The adjacent Van Court community also contains a number of detached single-family homes. There are also attached townhouses near the Westside Tennis Center and detached frame houses near Metropolitan Avenue. Finally, there are a number of apartment buildings scattered throughout the community. The most notable high-rise apartment buildings are The Continental on 108th St, Kennedy House, the Pinnacle, Parker Towers, the Windsor and a 17-story luxury condo building completed in 2014, the Aston.
The north side of Forest Hills is home to the Cord Meyer community, which contains detached single-family homes. Teardowns and their replacement with larger single family residences has had a significant impact on the architectural integrity of the area. However, the Bukharian Jewish community, whose members have settled in the area in large numbers since the late 1990s, advocating the changes say the bigger homes are needed for their large extended families.
Points of interest
Forest Hills was once the home of the U.S. Open tennis tournament. The event was held at the West Side Tennis Club before it moved to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Park, about 4 miles (6.4 km) away. When the Open was played at the tennis stadium, the tournament was commonly referred to merely as Forest Hills, just as All-England Lawn Tennis Association Championships are referred to simply as Wimbledon. In the 2001 motion picture, The Royal Tenenbaums, Luke Wilson's character plays a tennis match at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills. A pivotal scene in Alfred Hitchcock's 1951 film Strangers on a Train, in which the main character (played by Farley Granger) is a professional tennis player, features a lengthy championship game at the Club, with distinctive shots of the surrounding community. The Tennis Stadium, which hosted numerous music concerts including The Beatles after the U.S. Open departed for Flushing Meadows, resumed hosting music concerts during the summer of 2013 when the British rock band Mumford & Sons played there to an overflowing crowd. Stadium officials have said they will now host as many as six music or cultural events at the Stadium each season.
Austin Street is a busy, modern street with shops, cafes, restaurants, and other stores that acts as the center of Forest Hills. It has become a place people visit from other neighborhoods because of its charm.
Two monuments are erected in Forest Hills Gardens: a tribute to the victims of World War I, the "Great War"; and the mast of the Columbia, the winner of the America's Cup yacht races in both 1899 and 1901.
Junior high students in Forest Hills attend either J.H.S. 157 Stephen A. Halsey (commonly referred to as Halsey) in Rego Park or J.H.S. 190 Russell Sage (known as Sage) in Forest Hills as well as the newest school from grade 6 to 12, M.S. 167 (otherwise known as Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School (MELS)), "a school for a sustainable city". This school has a partnership with New York City Outward Bound. New York City high school students at the turn of the 21st century began applying to the high schools of their choice, as there is no longer a zoning policy for Forest Hills High School or Queens Metropolitan High School. Students from all over New York City may apply to high schools in other parts of the city. In addition to Forest Hills High School, a large percentage of students from both J.H.S. 157 and J.H.S. 190 gain admission to other high schools in New York City. Many J.H.S. 157 students also attend the Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Technical High School.
Private schools in Forest Hills include two Catholic schools, Our Lady of Mercy and Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, and The Kew-Forest School, an independent school.
Yeshiva Gedolah Lubavitch is an ultra orthodox Chabad high school and branch of Tomchei Temimim, located in Forest Hills.
Bramson ORT College is an undergraduate college operated by the American branch of the Jewish charity World ORT. Its main campus is in Forest Hills, with a satellite campus in Brooklyn. Touro College/NYSCAS has a branch location in Forest Hills. Plaza College, a small regionally-accredited college offering associates and bachelors degrees, is also located in Forest Hills.
The Forest Hills Library and the North Forest Park Library, operated by Queens Library, are in Forest Hills.
The main thoroughfare is Queens Boulevard; the street's width and complexity have led to a large number of pedestrian deaths, earning it the moniker "Boulevard of Death".Metropolitan Avenue is known for its antique shops. The commercial heart of Forest Hills is a mile-long stretch of Austin Street between Yellowstone Boulevard and Ascan Avenue: the latter thoroughfare was named in 1909 by developer Frederick Backus for his own father, Ascan Backus, II.
Forest Hills-71st Avenue, an express subway station at the intersection of Continental Avenue and Queens Boulevard, serves the , , , and trains. The local 75th Avenue stop ( and trains) is also in the area, and some entrance/exits of the express Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike station ( and trains) service the southeastern portion of Forest Hills. In northwest Forest Hills is the local 67th Avenue station, serving the , , and trains.
Forest Hills is bordered by two of the more sizable parks in Queens managed by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation: the 1,255 acres (5.08 km2) Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which is the site of two World's Fairs (in 1939 and 1964) and the iconic Unisphere; as well as the 544 acres (2.20 km2) Forest Park. Within Forest Hills, parks and playgrounds include the Yellowstone Municipal Park - Katzman Playground (located on Yellowstone Boulevard, between 68th Avenue and 68th Road); the Annadale Playground (located on Yellowstone Boulevard, between 64th Road and 65th Avenue); the Willow Lake Playground (located off the Grand Central Parkway, between 71st and 72nd Avenues); the Ehrenreich-Austin Playground (located on Austin Street, between 76th Avenue and 76th Drive); and the Russell Sage Playground (located on 68th Avenue, between Booth and Austin Streets).
In popular culture
Forest Hills was featured as the home setting for fictional comic book character Spider-Man.
The Ramones originated in Forest Hills. The band was recognized with the creation of Ramones Way at 67th Avenue and 110th Street, in front of Forest Hills High School.
Andrew Bergman (born 1945), screenwriter ("Blazing Saddles," "The In-Laws"), writer/director ("The Freshman," "Honeymoon In Vegas"), novelist (Jack LeVine Mystery series) and playwright ("Social Security," "Honeymoon In Vegas").
^Marzlock, Ron. "The Backus clan, who named Ascan Ave.", Queens Chronicle, October 25, 2012. Accessed July 5, 2016. "Frederick had a son, Ascan II, born in 1878 and named in honor of his immigrant grandfather. In 1909, when Frederick Backus cut a road from Queens Boulevard to Metropolitan Avenue, he named it Ascan Avenue, also in memory of his father the farming king."
^Reszutek, Dana. "Ramones Way coming to Forest Hills, Queens", AM New York, October 4, 2016. Accessed June 21, 2017. "The Ramones will be honored in their hometown of Forest Hills, Queens, with a street of their own, the band announced on its official website. Ramones Way will be located in front of Forest Hills High School, the alma mater of original band members Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee and Tommy."
^Sales, Nancy Jo. "Is Hip-Hop's Jeweler on the Rocks?", Vanity Fair, October 17, 2006. Accessed July 5, 2016. "Their driver, Alex, pulled out of the driveway of their multi-million-dollar brick Colonial in leafy Forest Hills, Queens, 20 minutes from Manhattan."
^Truong, Peggy. "Awkwafina Cherishes Buffalo Wild Wings and Other Forest Hills Chains", Vice (magazine), December 15, 2015. Accessed July 5, 2016. "If you ever run into Nora Lum--better known as the rapper and comedian Awkwafina--don't assume she's from Flushing. She gets that a lot. Instead, ask if she has time to hit up the Buffalo Wild Wings or one of the other chains in Forest Hills, where she grew up and where her folks still live."
^Lippincott, Sara. "Interview with David Baltimore", Caltech Oral Histories, October - November 2009. Accessed August 19, 2017. "Baltimore: We did not move to Great Neck until the early forties. I was born in New York City [Manhattan], but I was brought up in Queens--in Rego Park and Forest Hills."
^Staff. "Forest Hills corner to be renamed Sunday", Queens Chronicle, September 4, 2014. Accessed July 5, 2016. "The corner of 108th Street and 63rd Drive in Forest Hills will be renamed on Sunday at 10 a.m. for Sergei Dovlatov, a Russian writer and journalist who emigrated to the United States, specifically Forest Hills, to escape harassment from authorities in 1979."
^Silverberg, Alex. "Comic Thanks His Queens Upbringing"Archived November 7, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, copy of article from The Queens Tribune, July 6, 2007. Accessed October 18, 2007. "Hofstetter has been all around Queens. He spent his younger years in Briarwood before moving on to Forest Hills, and finally settling down in Rego Park for the duration of his teen years."
^Ho, Janie. "Alan King, Comic, Actor Dies at 76"Archived December 21, 2010, at WebCite, CBS News, May 9, 2004; accessed June 18, 2009. "King, who until then had been using worn out one-liners, found his new material at home. His wife had persuaded the New Yorker to forsake Manhattan for suburban Forest Hills, Queens, believing it would provide a better environment for their children."
^Schneider, Paul Miles. Biography, The official Andrea King website. Accessed June 18, 2009. "A few years later, after settling in New York, Belle consented to marry Douglas McKee, the Vice President of the Title Guarantee & Trust Company, and the threesome moved into a large house in Forest Hills, Long Island."
^Flint, Peter B. "Michael Landon, 54, Little Joe On 'Bonanza' for 14 Years, Dies", The New York Times, July 2, 1991; accessed June 18, 2009. "Mr. Landon, whose name was originally Eugene Maurice Orowitz, was born on Oct. 31, 1936, in Forest Hills, Queens, to Eli Maurice Orowitz, a movie theater manager, and the former Peggy O'Neill, an actress."
^Pareles, Jon. "Dee Dee Ramone, Pioneer Punk Rocker, Dies at 50", The New York Times, June 7, 2002. Accessed June 17, 2009.
"Tony Colvin moved her children to New York in the late 1960s. They settled in Forest Hills, Queens, where Douglas met the future members of the Ramones, described in Lobotomy as 'the obvious creeps of the neighborhood.'"
^Silverman, Stephen M. "Punk Rock Legend Johnny Ramone Dies at 55", People, September 16, 2004; accessed June 2, 2009. "Johnny Ramone, 55, was born John Cummings and grew up in Forest Hills, N.Y., soaking up rock in the '60s but then moving to an edgier sound."
^Coleman, Miriam. "Tommy Ramone Dead at 65Drummer was last surviving original member of the Ramones", Rolling Stone, July 12, 2014. Accessed February 8, 2018. "Born Erdelyi Tamas in Budapest in 1949, Ramone emigrated to America in 1957. He grew up in Forest Hills, Queens, where he began playing music with John Cummings (a.k.a. Johnny Ramone) while he was in high school.... In 1974, Erdelyi and Cummings joined together with two fellow Forest Hills compatriots, singer Jeffrey Hyman (Joey) and bassist Douglas Colvin (Dee Dee), and began playing simple, rapid-fire punk under a common surname."
^Thelma Ritter Profile, Turner Classic Movies. Accessed July 5, 2016. "When not acting, Ritter lived with her family in Forest Hills, New York, which she described later in an interview, 'We're only a block and a half from the subway. We came here in 1937 to see the tennis matches and decided that it was a nice place to live. We moved here and haven't been to the matches since.'"
^Jeff WayneArchived June 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Sony Music. Accessed June 18, 2009. "Jeff Wayne was born in Forest Hills, New York and discovered early in his life two passions that have remained with him -- music and tennis."
^Fischler, Marcelle S. "Nascent Hall of Fame to Welcome First Honorees", The New York Times, October 15, 2006; accessed November 26, 2007. "Dee Snider of Stony Brook, the shock-rocker from the 1980s heavy metal band Twisted Sister, known for his defiant metal anthem We're Not Gonna Take It, and Leslie West of the band Mountain, who grew up in East Meadow, Lawrence and Forest Hills, are also being inducted..."