Forest Hills, Queens
|Neighborhood of Queens|
Location within New York City
|City||New York City|
|• Total||7 km2 (2.6 sq mi)|
|• Land||6 km2 (2.4 sq mi)|
|• Water||0.5 km2 (0.2 sq mi)|
|• Density||13,470/km2 (34,886/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (EST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
|Area code(s)||718, 347, 929, and 917|
Forest Hills is a mostly residential neighborhood in the borough of Queens in New York City. Originally, the area was referred to as "Whitepot". The north, east, and south boundaries are the Long Island Expressway, Grand Central Parkway, and Union Turnpike, respectively. Google Maps shows the western boundary running roughly along 102nd Street, 67th Avenue, and the Long Island Rail Road's former Rockaway Beach Branch; while the Encyclopedia of New York City defines the western boundary as Junction Boulevard and the former Rockaway Beach Branch.:469
Forest Hills has a great tradition of tennis, with Forest Hills Stadium having hosted the U.S. Open until 1978 and the West Side Tennis Club offering pristine grass courts for its members. Bustling Austin Street bisects Forest Hills and boasts many restaurants and chain stores. Forest Hills is bordered by Flushing Meadows–Corona Park and Forest Park.
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.:470 Grosvenor 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
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.
The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 58.3% (48,822) White, 2.5% (2,086) African American, 0.1% (63) Native American, 24.2% (20,233) Asian, 0.0% (22) Pacific Islander, 0.4% (373) from other races, and 2.1% (1,719) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 12.4% (10,410) of the population.
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 population of such in the world outside of Israel.
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.
On the northwestern edge of Forest Hills, on 62nd Drive and 108th Street, immediately adjacent to the Long Island Expressway is a NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) low-income housing project that provoked controversy among the residents in the more prestigious areas of Forest Hills when it was constructed in the early 1970s.
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.
Forest Hills is served by the New York City Department of Education.
Pupils attend several public different elementary Schools, including:
- P.S. 101 School In The Gardens
- P.S. 144 Col. Jeromus Remsen School
- P.S. 175 Lynn Gross Discovery School
- P.S. 196 Grand Central Parkway
- P.S. 220 Edward Mandel
- P.S. 174 William Sidney Mount
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.
Traditionally many more students from J.H.S. 190 choose to study at Stuyvesant High School and Townsend Harris High School, in addition to the Bronx High School of Science. Numerous students from Forest Hills also choose to attend middle and high school at the Baccalaureate School for Global Education, a public school in Astoria, which teaches grades 7 through 12 and follows the International Baccalaureate curriculum. Many of the students from outside the district accepted to attend Forest Hills High School are those who applied to either the school's Law & Humanities program, or the Carl Sagan program in accelerated math and science. FHHS began admitting students by audition to their Academy of Instructional Music and Performing Arts in 2006. Notable graduates of Forest Hills High School include Jacob Lew, former US Secretary of the Treasury, Dennis Tito, the first outer space tourist, as well as many show-business stars, including musicians Burt Bacharach, Simon & Garfunkel, and The Ramones.
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 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 E, F, M, and R trains. The local 75th Avenue stop (E and F trains) is also in the area, and some entrance/exits of the express Kew Gardens – Union Turnpike station (E and F trains) service the southeastern portion of Forest Hills. In northwest Forest Hills is the local 67th Avenue station, serving the E, M, and R trains.
Parks and recreation
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
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- Hank Azaria (born 1964), actor and voice artist
- David Baltimore (born 1938), Nobel Prize-winning virologist
- Walter Becker (born 1950), half of the musical duo Steely Dan
- Jimmy Breslin (born 1930), journalist
- Joseph Bowler (born 1928), artist and illustrator
- Daniel Bukantz (1917–2008), Olympic fencer
- Michael A. Burstein (born 1970), science fiction writer
- Dale Carnegie (1888–1955), self-improvement lecturer and author of How to Win Friends and Influence People lived at 27 Wendover Rd in Forest Hills.
- David Caruso, (born 1956), actor in CSI: Miami, and NYPD Blue
- Candy Darling (1944–1974), Warhol Superstar who appeared in a number of his films
- John R. Dilworth (born 1963), animator and creator of Cartoon Network's Courage the Cowardly Dog
- Sergei Dovlatov (1941–1990), Russian short story writer and novelist; in 2014, the corner of 63rd Drive and 108th Street was given an honorary designation in his name.
- Walter Egan (born 1948), singer-songwriter ("Magnet and Steel")
- Billy Eichner (born 1978), comedian, actor, and host of Billy on the Street
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- Ethel D. Jacobs (1910–2001), thoroughbred horse owner and breeder, wife of Hirsch Jacobs
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- Donna Karan (born 1948), fashion designer
- Helen Keller (1880–1968), lecturer, author, fundraiser, activist
- Alan King (1927–2004), actor/comedian 
- Andrea King (1919–2003), actress
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- Gary Kurfirst (1947–2009), concert promoter and record producer
- Michael Landon (1936–1991), actor known for his roles on Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie
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- Jack Lew (born 1955), United States Secretary of the Treasury since 2013
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- Jack McAuliffe (1866–1937), world lightweight boxing champion
- Chieli Minucci (born 1958), jazz musician
- Min Xiao-Fen (born 1961), pipa player and vocalist 
- Michele "Big Mike" Miranda (1896–1973), consigliere of the Genovese crime family and one of the most powerful New York gangsters in the 1950s and 1960s
- Lore Noto (1923–2002), Off-Broadway producer
- Carroll O'Connor (1924–2001), actor, best known for his role as Archie Bunker on All in the Family
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Trainer Hirsh Jacobs, who exactly one year ago saddled his 3,000th winner for a world record, was absolved of blame today in the stimulation of a filly owned by his wife, Mrs. Ethel D. Jacobs of Forest Hills, N. Y.
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