2012-05-23 / Front Page

Forest Hills Inn Turns 100

By Evan Kaston

The Forest Hills Inn in Forest Hills Gardens recently celebrated its 100th anniversary.Photo Vinny DuPreThe Forest Hills Inn in Forest Hills Gardens recently celebrated its 100th anniversary.Photo Vinny DuPreThis past week marked the 100th anniversary celebration of The Forest Hills Inn, located at 1 Station Square in Forest Hills Gardens. On May 18, supporters of the historic structure observed the anniversary in the front lobby of the Inn.
Originally settled in the mid-1600s by English colonists, the town was originally known as Whitepot. The colonists bought the land from the Native Americans for three white clay pots and thus the name was born. A couple of centuries later, in 1906, the town of Whitepot was renamed Forest Hills by developer Cord Meyer.
It was named in reference to nearby Forest Park and because it was the highest elevated piece of land for miles. At this time, most of Forest Hills was consumed by farmland but with urbanization slowly in effect and Manhattan no more than 10 miles away, changes were about to take place.
A well-known and respected architect, Grosvenor Atterbury, was assigned to design a plot of land in Forest Hills for the overflow of urbanization from Manhattan into the adjacent towns; this area was called Forest Hills Gardens. He modeled the area after the garden cities of England. This was the first planned community to be developed in this fashion and depicts some of the nation’s roots as a newborn country. Atterbury brought the English flavor to the town with cobblestone streets, clay red -slated rooftops and gargoyle statues erected off roof top ledges, but perhaps his most prominent design was the Forest Hills Inn which opened its doors on May 1, 1912.
In 1910, the completion of a train route from Manhattan to Jamaica pronounced the beginning of the urbanization overflow. The train was built at ground level and did not have an official train station; instead, passengers in Forest Hills awaiting the train would flag it down when they saw it in the distance in order for it to stop. Two years later, with the opening of The Forest Hills Inn, the train tracks were raised and a station was built for the Forest Hills residents. This station had a walkway from the Inn, which made for easy access for the commuters and made it to Pennsylvania Station in about 13 minutes.
With urbanization in full effect and the city overpopulated with working class people, Station Square was a close distance away for the Manhattan business person and nowhere near as over populated. The Forest Hills Inn was originally designed for the everyday business man or woman who also enjoyed the outdoors. With the railroad steps away from their door, it was a quick and easy commute along with a proper getaway from all the hustle and bustle of Manhattan.
The recently renovated Forest Hills Inn signifies a simpler time in American history and brings a historic flavor to the now modern town. Moving along with the times, the landmark is no longer a hotel but has been converted to a co-op residence to accommodate for the increase in population Forest Hills has experienced in the last century.
At the celebration party last Friday, attendants received a brief history lesson about the landmark; and marveled at how the history of the area and culture developed throughout the years.

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