Close-Up on Forest Hills, Queens


Portions of this article have been updated.

What do Teddy Roosevelt and Bob Dylan have in common? Both have hung out in Forest Hills. In 1917, the former president gave his “One-hundred percent American” speech from the steps of what is now an LIRR station, and the rock star sang “Desolation Row” at a concert in the area’s biggest park in 1965. This upscale neighborhood has always changed with the times without compromising the turn-of-the-century elegance evident in its Tudor-style homes, castles, turrets, and cobblestone streets. Yet, lots of shops, eateries, and spacious pre-war apartments lure an ethnically mixed group of young professionals to what seems to be one of the most happening zip codes in Queens. As former residents the Ramones would say, “Hey, ho, let’s go!”

Boundaries: The Long Island Expressway to the north, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to the east, Union Turnpike to the south, and Junction Boulevard to the west

Transportation: Take the F, E, R, or V trains to 71st Street and Continental Avenue, or the LIRR to historic Station Square; about 30 minutes to midtown.

Main Drags: Bustling Austin Street and busy Continental Avenue offer the requisite chains (the Gap, Barnes & Noble, Starbucks) and plenty for shoppers to nosh on while window-gazing. Further south, Metropolitan Avenue retains its village-like personality with a half-dozen antique shops and restaurants throughout. Yellowstone Boulevard is another, mainly residential, thoroughfare.

Average Price to Rent: Studio, $900 to $1,300 ($900); one-bedroom, $1,100 to $1,400 ($1,300); two-bedroom, $1,400 to $2,000 ($1800)

Average Price to Buy: Studio, $100,000 to $130,000 ($90,000); one-bedroom co-op, $160,000 to $200,000 ($160,000); two-bedroom co-op, $260,000; single-family house, $850,000 ($800,000)

Cultural Institutions: The Parkside Players, a nonprofit community theater group, produce three shows a year at Grace Lutheran Church (Union Turnpike and 71st Road). In May they’ll be staging the zany murder mystery Something’s Afoot. Whether classical, flamenco, or opera, the bandshell in Forest Park has lots on offer this summer.

Green Space: A densely wooded area sprawled between Woodhaven Boulevard and Metropolitan Avenue, Forest Park boasts plenty of trails, a bandshell, a golf course, a carousel, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, and horseback riding.

Local Landmarks: Station Square attests to the district’s history. The classic station with arches and canopies was built in 1911 and restored a few years ago. The Tennis Stadium, part of the West Side Tennis Club, was the first home of the U.S. Open from 1920 till 1978.

Famous Residents: Simon and Garfunkel recorded their first song when they were classmates at Forest Hills High School in the ’50s. Two decades later, the Ramones gave birth to punk rock in those same halls. Other well-known residents over the years have included comedians Lou Costello, Carroll O’Connor, Ray Romano, Jerry Seinfeld, yada, yada, yada.

Best Store: Austin Cheese & Gourmet (71-48 Austin Street) is an obligatory stop before hosting any dinner party. Whether it’s Gruyère or blue that you seek, just say cheese!

Best Restaurants: If you like thin pizza crust charred just right, head to Nick’s Pizza (108-26 Ascan Avenue) for the perfect pie—fresh mozzarella, yummy tomato sauce, and just enough basil. For exotic cuisine, you won’t mind being Thai-ed up for a while at the authentically decorated Bann Thai (69-12 Austin Street) and the wine aficionados’ haven the Q Bistro (108-25 Ascan Avenue). Old-fashioned types can take a stroll down memory lane at Eddie’s Sweet Shop (105-29 Metropolitan Avenue), a century-old soda fountain that serves up homemade ice cream sundaes, malteds, shakes, and egg creams.

Best Bars: Skip the French-styled main room at Network Café (108-02 72nd Avenue) and head down the narrow spiral staircase to the basement bar, where you can get cozy real fast on one of the many plush couches. Mexican bar-restaurant Five Burro Café (72-05 Austin Street) pours potent drinks with descriptive names like Red Death, Mind Eraser, and Shark Attack that make for a hasty hangover.

Local Politicians: Councilwoman Melinda Katz, Assembly Member Michael Cohen, Congressman Anthony D. Weiner, all Democrats; and State Senator Serphin R. Maltese, a Republican. Street-smart politicos have been working to make Queens Boulevard (a/k/a the Boulevard of Death; more than 75 people have died traversing the street) safer for pedestrians by installing more lights at intersections.

Crime Stats: The 112th Precinct serves Forest Hills and Rego Park. As of November 22, 2005, it has reported 1 murder, 9 rapes, 61 robberies, 200 felony assaults, and 664 burglaries. (As of April 13, it reported no murders, same as last year; 61 robberies, up 15; 95 burglaries, down four; and 18 felonious assaults, down four.)

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 29, 2003

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