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History of Forest Hills, Queens

Colonial Times

The Dutch had colonized New York State, then known as New Amsterdam, and in 1652, English settlers founded Newtown (now known as Elmhurst). The section of Newtown, then called Whitepot/Whiteput, is the region that today we call Forest Hills. There is a dispute as to how Whitepot/Whiteput was named. Some call it Whitepot due to the legend that the English settlers acquired the land from Native Americans in exchange for three white pots. Others call it Whiteput because of the pit in the area formed by a dry river bed-- "pit" is "put" in Dutch.

The region of Newtown served as a British Stronghold for General William Howe during the Revolutionary War. In 1739, the Whitepot school was built, and it was the first school built in Newtown. 

General William Howe


In 1893, Cord Meyer, an attorney, real estate developer, and diplomat, bought the region of Newtown and developed basic utilities such as gas and electricity there. He renamed the region "Elmhurst." Then, in 1906, the Cord Meyer Development Company bought 600 acres of the region formerly known as Whitepot, which was previously owned by a group of farmers. Cord Meyer renamed the region "Forest Hills," as it was the highest point in the region of Newtown, and bordered Forest Park. He bought 340 houses and established basic utilities in the region.

Cord Meyer

Then, in 1908-09, the Cord Meyer Development Company sold 150 acres of land south of the railroad line built in Forest Hills to the Russel Sage Homes Foundation, which was formed by Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage. She was the richest woman in America at the time, as she had inherited a fortune from her husband, Russel Sage. She was committed to progressive values and envisioned a region of Forest Hills where everyone could afford a home, regardless of income, and the streets would be lined with trees. Unfortunately, due to the high costs of developing the area, the mortgage was too expensive for lower class families to afford. 

Margaret Olivia Scolum Sage

Under her foundation, the architects and landscapers who developed the housing in the area had strict requirements: each house was to be built in Tudor or Georgian style, and the roofs had to be made of red tiling or slate. This gave the houses in the region a character that it still retains today.







Tudor Style Home                                                        Georgian Style Home

West Side Tennis Club

The West Side Tennis Club was originally located to Central Park, and later moved to 117th street near Columbia University. However, due to crowding problems, in 1913, the West Side Tennis Club was moved to Forest Hills Stadium. There, they hosted 60 U.S. Opens from 1915-1977. They have hosted a number of musical legends, including Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Who, Diana Ross, and the Boston Pops. Today, the stadium is still a place where highly regarded musicians perform, especially since its 100th anniversary of tennis and its revitalization in 2013.

Forest Hills Stadium




In 1909, the Long Island Railroad made Forest Hills a scheduled stop, facilitating travel from Queens to Manhattan. On December 31, 1936, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority opened the Forest Hills-71 Avenue station, which connects to the E, F, M, and R trains.

Forest Hills LIRR Station                             Forest Hills MTA Station


Today, Forest Hills homes still have the charm that they did in the early 20th century. The Tudor/Georgian styles give an antique look, that is a contrast from the urban housing in many other parts of New York. Forest Hills is a culturally diverse area, with many small businesses belonging to immigrants, as well as well-known American businesses. 

Forest Hills Gardens


Exit Kingdom Realty offers several homes and apartments for sale throughout Forest HillsQueens, and Long Island.  If you have any questions, contact us at 718-268-8868.

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