Forest Hills is where I live. It's a quiet residential neighborhood with one street (Austin Street) that's kinda hopping late at night, though it's hardly Greenwich Village.
Queens Boulevard bisects the town neatly; south of the Boulevard is an elegant mock-Tudor village, built around the turn of the century, with castles and turrets and village greens. It's very impressive to look at, and also way out of my price range. Helen Keller was one of the original residents of this community; Geraldine Ferraro also raised her family here (and may still live here -- I'm not sure).
The Tudor Village is known as Forest Hills Gardens, and not all the famous Forest Hills residents are from there. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel lived near, but not in, the Gardens (if the information I have is correct). And the Ramones -- the coolest four guys ever to walk the streets of Queens -- all grew up near where I live, in the apartment buildings north of Queens Boulevard. Yellowstone Boulevard is the main thoroughfare here, and it's all residential, just one apartment complex after another.
Forest Hills used to be the site of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, until the tournament moved to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Both the old (Forest Hills) and the new (Flushing Meadows) tennis courts are open for business through the year, which means you can show up with a racket (if you can get an appointment) and play on the famous courts where so much history took place. The old tennis stadium has also been used for concerts, and Bob Dylan played his second-ever electric show there, after his first at the Newport Folk Festival. According to reports, he didn't even get booed in Forest Hills.
Forest Hills is ethnically mixed but largely Jewish (Joey Ramone's real name is Jeffrey Hyman), Catholic and Asian. Many Russian-Jewish immigrants have recently moved into the northernmost part of Forest Hills, turning 108 Street south of the Expressway into a raucous Eastern European shopping bazaar. Come on a Friday afternoon, and you'll get jostled and bumped until you think you're on line for toilet paper in the center of Moscow. Saturday is the shabbot (the sabbath) and all is quiet.
Corona used to be largely Italian (Martin Scorsese was born here) and now houses several Hispanic communities. Dominicans and Colombians predominate, along with Puerto Ricans. The town is located on the West side of Flushing Meadows Park, across the way from Flushing, and the photo on the previous page of me and my son walking back home from Shea Stadium was taken on a side street in Corona.
There's a lot of fun street life in Corona, especially on summer days. I remember once going to a street fair here and persuading my daughter to purchase an orange shaved-ice by saying "naranja" to the Hispanic guy working the cart. Kids all around her were ordering that way -- but the guy couldn't understand what on earth Eliza was trying to say, until she gave up and said "orange!"
Corona is just north of Forest Hills. Paul Simon wrote "Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard" about this town:
The best frozen ices I've ever had are at the Lemon Ice King of Corona on 108 Street. They're made with fresh fruit. I always stop there with the kids when we walk to Mets games ... mmm ....
Did you ever see the Eddie Murphy movie Coming To America, in which Eddie and Arsenio Hall come to my favorite borough looking, literally, for women eligible to become queens? A McDonald's imitation called McDowell's was one of the focal points of that movie, and the scenes at McDowell's were actually filmed at the Wendy's pictured here.
Around here you can rent "Pulp Fiction" in Hindi, Punjabi or Urdu. Or you can just do what Maggie and I do in Jackson Heights ... eat, then eat some more.
Return To Queens Map
by Levi Asher