Forest Hills, Queens

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Forest Hills
Station Square
Location within New York City
Coordinates: 40°42′54″N 73°50′42″W / 40.715°N 73.845°W / 40.715; -73.845Coordinates: 40°42′54″N 73°50′42″W / 40.715°N 73.845°W / 40.715; -73.845
Country United States
State New York
City New York City
County/Borough Queens
Community DistrictQueens 6[1]
Area
 • Total7 km2 (2.6 sq mi)
 • Land6 km2 (2.4 sq mi)
 • Water0.5 km2 (0.2 sq mi)
Population
 • Total83,728
 • Density13,470/km2 (34,886/sq mi)
 [2]
Ethnicity
 • White59.58%
 • Asian23.7%
 • Hispanic12.03%
 • Black3.73%
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Code
11375
Area codes718, 347, 929, and 917

Forest Hills is a mostly residential neighborhood in the central portion of the borough of Queens in New York City. The north, east, and south boundaries are the Long Island Expressway (LIE), 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;[3] while the Encyclopedia of New York City defines the western boundary as Junction Boulevard and the former Rockaway Beach Branch.[4]:469 The area was originally referred to as "Whitepot".[5]

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, two of the largest parks in Queens by area.

Forest Hills is located in Queens Community District 6 and its ZIP Code is 11375.[1] It is patrolled by the New York City Police Department's 112th Precinct.[6] Politically, Forest Hills is represented by the New York City Council's 29th District.[7]

History[edit]

Austin Street, the main shopping area, c. 2006
Southeastern portion of Austin Street with typical Queens six-story red brick apartment buildings on one side and residential homes on the other
Queens Boulevard, looking eastward

Development[edit]

The development of adjacent Forest Park, a park on the southern end of Forest Hills, began in 1895. Starting in 1896, the landscape architecture firm of Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot was contracted to provide a plan for the park.[4]: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.[4]:469 The roads of Forest Hills were laid out by 1910.[4]: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.[4]: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.[4]:470[8] 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.[9] The houses were mostly constructed between 1910 and 1917.[4]:470

The Long Island Rail Road opened a station in Forest Hills in 1911,[10] and the Queens Boulevard trolley line opened two years later.[11] 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.[4]:470 Since the railroad and trolley both connected to Manhattan, the presence of these two transportation options spurred development in Forest Hills.[4]:469

Growth[edit]

In 1914, the West Side Tennis Club moved from Manhattan to Forest Hills Gardens.[4]:469 They constructed the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, a stadium with approximately 13,000 seats, in 1923.[4]:469[12] The U.S. Open and its predecessor national championships were held there until 1978, making Forest Hills synonymous with tennis for generations.[13] 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[14] and it was open by 1924.[4]:469 However, the club was closed in 1938 so that developers could build housing atop the site of the course.[15]

Queens Boulevard was widened in the 1920s.[4]: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.[16][17] During the late 1920s, in anticipation of the arrival of the subway, land was bought by developers and was built up.[18] Zoning laws were changed to allow fifteen-story apartment buildings to be built,[19] 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."[18]:73 Excavation for the line started in 1931,[4]:469 and the two subway stops in Forest Hills opened in 1936 along with six other stations on the Queens Boulevard line.[20]

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.[4]: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.[4]:469–470

Later history[edit]

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.[21] 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.[21][4]: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.[4]:470

Demographics[edit]

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).[2]

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.[22]

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.[23]

The entirety of Community Board 6, which comprises Forest Hills and Rego Park, had 115,119 inhabitants as of NYC Health's 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 85.4 years.[24]:2, 20 This is higher than the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods.[25]:53 (PDF p. 84)[26] Most inhabitants are middle-aged and elderly adults: 31% are between the ages of 25–44, 28% between 45–64, and 19% over 64. The ratio of young and college-aged residents was lower, at 16% and 5% respectively.[24]:2

As of 2017, the median household income in Community Board 4 was $75,447.[27] In 2018, an estimated 26% of Forest Hills and Rego Park residents lived in poverty, compared to 19% in all of Queens and 20% in all of New York City. One in seventeen residents (6%) were unemployed, compared to 8% in Queens and 9% in New York City. Rent burden, or the percentage of residents who have difficulty paying their rent, is 50% in Forest Hills and Rego Park, lower than the boroughwide and citywide rates of 53% and 51% respectively. Based on this calculation, as of 2018, Forest Hills and Rego Park is considered to be high-income relative to the rest of the city and not gentrifying.[24]:7

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.

Land use[edit]

Forest Hills Gardens, part of Forest Hills
The Church-in-the-Gardens 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[28] 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.[29] Forest Hills Gardens was named "Best Community" in 2007 by Cottage Living Magazine.[30] 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.

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.[31] 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.[32]

On the northwestern edge of Forest Hills, on 62nd Drive and 108th Street immediately adjacent to the Long Island Expressway, is the Forest Hills Co-op Houses, a New York City Housing Authority low-income housing project. Its construction provoked controversy[33] among the residents in the more prestigious areas of Forest Hills when it was constructed in the early 1970s.[21]

The southeastern portion of Forest Hills contains Forest Hills South, a complex of 7 Georgian apartment buildings centered around a private English garden, which was formerly a mapped portion of 113th Street prior to the complex's construction in 1939. This enclave was designed by Philip Birnbaum.[34][35]

Philip Birnbaum and Alfred Kaskel also designed and constructed numerous apartment buildings scattered throughout Forest Hills.[36] These include the Grover Cleveland, the Van Buren Apartments, the Thomas Jefferson, the Maplewood, the Richard Apartments, the Stephen Apartments, the James Madison, the Cedar Apartments, the Howard Apartments, the James Monroe, the Nathan Hale, the St. Regis, the Roanoke, and the Kennedy House. Birnbaum and Kaskel's buildings largely remain standing, and are distinguished by their spacious lobbies, interior courtyards with fountains, curved brick corner terraces, and sunlit exposures.[37][35] Other notable high-rise apartment buildings include the Continental (on 108th Street), the Pinnacle, Parker Towers, the Windsor and a 17-story luxury condo building completed in 2014, the Aston.

Points of interest[edit]

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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

The Church-in-the-Gardens, St. Luke's Episcopal Church, and United States Post Office are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[38]

Panoramic view of the skyline
Panoramic view of Station Square

Police and crime[edit]

Forest Hills and Rego Park are patrolled by the 112th Precinct of the NYPD, located at 68-40 Austin Street.[6] The 112th Precinct ranked 6th safest out of 69 patrol areas for per-capita crime in 2010. The area's low crime rate is attributed to its seclusion and reputation as a "suburb within the city".[39] With a non-fatal assault rate of 14 per 100,000 people, Forest Hills and Rego Park's rate of violent crimes per capita is less than that of the city as a whole. The incarceration rate of 102 per 100,000 people is lower than that of the city as a whole.[24]:8

The 112th Precinct has a lower crime rate than in the 1990s, with crimes across all categories having decreased by 91.5% between 1990 and 2018. The precinct saw 0 murders, 18 rapes, 41 robberies, 53 felony assaults, 69 burglaries, 403 grand larcenies, and 37 grand larcenies auto in 2018.[40]

Fire safety[edit]

Forest Hills contains a New York City Fire Department (FDNY) fire station, Engine Co. 305/Ladder Co. 151, at 111-02 Queens Boulevard.[41][42]

Health[edit]

Preterm and teenage births are less common in Forest Hills and Rego Park than in other places citywide. In Forest Hills and Rego Park, there were 66 preterm births per 1,000 live births (compared to 87 per 1,000 citywide), and 4.6 teenage births per 1,000 live births (compared to 19.3 per 1,000 citywide).[24]:11 Forest Hills and Rego Park have a low population of residents who are uninsured. In 2018, this population of uninsured residents was estimated to be 11%, slightly lower than the citywide rate of 12%.[24]:14

The concentration of fine particulate matter, the deadliest type of air pollutant, in Forest Hills and Rego Park is 0.0075 milligrams per cubic metre (7.5×10−9 oz/cu ft), equal to the city average.[24]:9 Ten percent of Forest Hills and Rego Park residents are smokers, which is lower than the city average of 14% of residents being smokers.[24]:13 In Forest Hills and Rego Park, 19% of residents are obese, 7% are diabetic, and 20% have high blood pressure—compared to the citywide averages of 20%, 14%, and 24% respectively.[24]:16 In addition, 11% of children are obese, compared to the citywide average of 20%.[24]:12

Ninety-three percent of residents eat some fruits and vegetables every day, which is higher than the city's average of 87%. In 2018, 82% of residents described their health as "good," "very good," or "excellent," higher than the city's average of 78%.[24]:13 For every supermarket in Forest Hills and Rego Park, there are 5 bodegas.[24]:10

Long Island Jewish Forest Hills is located in Forest Hills.[43]

Post office and ZIP code[edit]

Forest Hills is covered by ZIP Code 11375.[44] The United States Post Office operates the Forest Hills Station at 92-24 Queens Boulevard.[45]

Education[edit]

Forest Hills and Rego Park generally have a higher percentage of college-educated residents than the rest of the city. The majority of residents (62%) have a college education or higher, while 8% have less than a high school education and 30% are high school graduates or have some college education. By contrast, 39% of Queens residents and 43% of city residents have a college education or higher.[24]:6 The percentage of Forest Hills and Rego Park students excelling in math rose from 42% in 2000 to 61% in 2011, and reading achievement rose from 48% to 49% during the same time period.[46]

Forest Hills and Rego Park's rate of elementary school student absenteeism is less than the rest of New York City. In Forest Hills and Rego Park, 10% of elementary school students missed twenty or more days per school year, lower than the citywide average of 20%.[25]:24 (PDF p. 55)[24]:6 Additionally, 91% of high school students in Forest Hills and Rego Park graduate on time, more than the citywide average of 75%.[24]:6

K–12 schools[edit]

Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Roman Catholic Church
Russell Sage Junior High School

Public schools[edit]

Forest Hills is served by the New York City Department of Education. Pupils attend several different elementary Schools, including:

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.[47]

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.[48] 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.[49] 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.

Private schools[edit]

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.[citation needed]

Yeshiva Gedolah Lubavitch is an ultra orthodox Chabad high school and branch of Tomchei Temimim, located in Forest Hills.[50]

Other schools include:

  • The Kew-Forest School
  • Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Catholic Academy
  • Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Academy

Colleges[edit]

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.

Libraries[edit]

The Queens Public Library operates two branches in Forest Hills. The Forest Hills branch is located at 108-19 71st Avenue,[51] while the North Forest Park branch is located at 98-27 Metropolitan Avenue.[52]

Transportation[edit]

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".[53] 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.[54]

Forest Hills–71st Avenue, an express subway station at the intersection of Continental Avenue and Queens Boulevard, serves the E, ​F, <F>, ​M, and ​R trains. The local 75th Avenue stop (E, ​F, and <F> trains) is also in the area, and some entrance/exits of the express Kew Gardens–Union Turnpike station (E, ​F, 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.[55][56]

The neighborhood also has two Long Island Rail Road commuter rail stations: the Forest Hills station and the Kew Gardens station.[56]

Several MTA Bus routes, including the Q23, Q60 and Q64 local buses and the QM4, QM11, QM12 and QM18 express buses, serve the area.[57]

Parks and recreation[edit]

Forest Hills is bordered by two of the largest 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;[58] as well as the 544 acres (2.20 km2) Forest Park.[59] Within Forest Hills, parks and playgrounds include the Yellowstone Municipal Park – Katzman Playground (located on Yellowstone Boulevard, between 68th Avenue and 68th Road);[60] the Annadale Playground (located on Yellowstone Boulevard, between 64th Road and 65th Avenue);[61] the Willow Lake Playground (located off the Grand Central Parkway, between 71st and 72nd Avenues);[62] the Ehrenreich-Austin Playground (located on Austin Street, between 76th Avenue and 76th Drive);[63] and the Russell Sage Playground (located on 68th Avenue, between Booth and Austin Streets).[64]

In popular culture[edit]

Forest Hills was featured as the home setting for fictional comic book character Spider-Man, where under the alias Peter Parker he grew up at 20 Ingram Street (40°42′46″N 73°50′36″W / 40.712805°N 73.843281°W / 40.712805; -73.843281 (20 Ingram Street)). In the series the home was depicted as a modest, two-story boarding house run by his Aunt May.[65][66][67]

The Ramones originated in Forest Hills. The band was recognized with the designation in 2017 of Ramones Way at 67th Avenue and 110th Street, in front of Forest Hills High School.[68]

Notable people[edit]

References[edit]

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