Some call it the Garden City. Others call it the heart and soul of Queens. About 4,500 people call it home, but one thing’s for sure—just about everyone who has seen Forest Hills calls it beautiful.
Sandwiched between Rego Park and North Forest Park, Forest Hills is a gem of an area that is rich in history, culture, beauty and options for both the resident and the visitor. Forest Hills has gone through many changes over the years, but steadfastly remains one of the loveliest locales in the five boroughs.
After the Dutch colonized New York in the 1600s, a group of English settlers from the Massachusetts Bay Colony settled in 1652 in what is now known as the Forest Hills area. The area has undergone many a name change through the years—its first name was “Whiteput” or “Whitepot.” The story says that local natives traded the land to the settlers for three white cooking pots. By the time the Revolutionary War came around, Whitepot was developed enough for British General Sir William Howe to place his headquarters on what is now Queens Boulevard in Newtown, an area that was combined with Whitepot in 1893 and sold as “Elmhurst.”
Cord Meyer, a lawyer and developer, purchased about 600 acres of the land shortly thereafter, and was the person responsible for initiating the infrastructure of much of what we know today as Forest Hills. In the years following the purchase of the land, Meyer brought in gas and electricity and built a bank. After this development seemed to be on a roll, the neighborhood was finally named “Forest Hills,” as it was adjacent to Forest Park and was the highest point in Queens. Meyer’s development company kept producing results in their newly-coined town—they formed public utilities and built 340 houses north of Queens Boulevard.
A Model Community
Another person closely linked to the history of modern day Forest Hills was philanthropist Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage. In 1909, Sage headed up the Russell Sage Homes Foundation and bought 150 acres of land in the area. Her idea was to have a “model community” with tree-lined streets, parks and recreation areas with affordable, attractive housing for everyone from rich folks to the working class and the poor.