On the hipness of neighborhoods

Lately I’ve really been liking my neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens. It has more than a little to do, I’m sure, with the fact that I now own a home here and thus am more invested in it. Still, I’ve taken to really appreciating it lately, taking aimless walks through unfamiliar parts, snapping photos, thinking about what I’d like to see happen here and what I wouldn’t like to see happen here.

But as much as I love it here, Forest Hills is not hip. It’s not Chelsea or the Lower East Side. It’s not Williamsburg, Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, the hot parts of Brooklyn. Its location in terminally uncool Queens isn’t even an excuse anymore–Astoria and even grungy Long Island City have long passed it on the hipness meter, and as they become more prohibitively expensive and hipsters are forced farther away from Manhattan, Sunnyside, Woodside and Jackson Heights have blown by the Hills, too.

But why? Why is Forest Hills, lovely and livable as it is, still an address that will elicit a “Where?” at best or a snicker at worst when you mention it to someone with a couple of tattoos? Admittedly, in the two-and-a-half years I’ve lived here, this enclave of elderly Jews and taciturn former Soviet nationals has become significantly younger–largely, I think, due to the morbid fact that old people, well, die–and a bit more fashionable, but it’s still not really on the radar of the kind of people who read Radar. I’ve done some thinking about this, and I’ve come up with some theories:

It’s too far from the city.
After all, everybody wants to be in Manhattan, but now that the entire island has become a playground for the rich and very rich, it’s the neighborhoods just outside that become gentrified first. Formerly industrial and dangerous Williamsburg, after all, is just one stop away from the chic East Village (itself a neighborhood that was once plenty undesirable) on the L train, aka the Williamsburg Party Shuttle. Hoboken, New Jersey, is five minutes from the Village on the PATH train. And Long Island City, one stop away from Midtown on a huge array of trains: the 7, F, E, V, R, N, W and–when it runs, which isn’t too often–G, has for years been the perfect candidate to get classed up. Forest Hills sure looks far away when you see it on the subway map. But thanks to the E and F express trains, it’s not really so far at all–20 fast minutes to Midtown. You can’t do better than that in an emerging neighborhood like Prospect Heights, and you’ll do far worse in Bay Ridge, which has been getting some attention lately. And there’s walking to consider. I live two short blocks from the subway, but many people will pay significantly more than me to live a long haul from the train in Boerum Hill, where they won’t get to Manhattan any faster than I will. And they’ll be walking while I’ll be sitting. Well, sometimes.

It’s too expensive.
Hipsters want to live cheaply, the theory goes, so they move to unhip neighborhoods where they can score a big spread for peanuts. They attract hip shops and restaurants, and moneyed hipsters follow, driving up prices. Forest Hills has always been a good neighborhood, so the first wave of impoverished hipsters never showed up. But the problem with this theory is that the process moves so fast today, many emerging neighborhoods are still plenty unhip by the time they catch up to the Hills in price. Take the outer reaches of Williamsburg, which still have nothing to offer and are nowhere near public transportation but are way more expensive than Forest Hills. And neighboring Rego Park and Kew Gardens are even cheaper, yet they haven’t experienced any of this process.

There isn’t good space for artists.
A lot of neighborhoods gentrify because artists need cheap, large spaces to work in. Forest Hills doesn’t have this space. But despite the Williamsburg success story and the beginnings of a similar phenomenon in LIC, not all hip neighborhoods get hip this way.

It doesn’t have hip retail.
Forest Hills lacks trendy bars and clubs, my cutting-edge wife is unimpressed by the selection in most of the independently owned clothing stores, and “live music” is so unheard of here that you’d be shocked to learn that this neighborhood once hosted a famous Bob Dylan concert and produced Simon, Garfunkel and the Ramones–and come on, who’s hipper than the Ramones? But the way it generally works is that the hipsters come first, then the retail comes in to cater to them. That’s what we call capitalism. Still, Forest Hills already does have some businesses that, while not exactly ready to be frequented by Moby, you’d think would be appealing to hipsters just as a start. There’s a great natural-foods supermarket, a big Barnes & Noble–though Barnes & Noble is not in itself hip, all hip neighborhoods must have one–and about 50 decent Thai restaurants. Hipsters love Thai restaurants. All this is probably better than Williamsburg was doing in 1992.

But what really gave me some insight was a little walk I took today. It’s January 6, but it feels more like June 6. Melissa was indisposed all day, so I decided to take the opportunity to do a little gallivanting. First I took the subway down to Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, a neighborhood in the late stages of hipification. It’s not Williamsburg in terms of coolness, but it’s pretty cool. I had a lovely time. Then I hopped back on the subway to check out a neighborhood everybody’s talking about: Red Hook.

Let’s talk about Red Hook, shall we? Not located on any subway line, Red Hook is an industrial corner of Brooklyn boxed in by an expressway and once notable primarily for its huge housing project. Lately everybody’s been moving to Red Hook. Far cheaper than the adjacent neighborhoods of South Brooklyn such as Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill and Cobble Hill, skinny white kids are headed over in droves to take over a largely minority neighborhood and, one can assume, force out its current denizens. I did some research on Red Hook before heading over and learned that its main drag is called Van Brunt Street. I mapped it and looked into how to get there. Everything I read suggested taking the F train to Smith-9th Streets in Carroll Gardens and catching the bus over. But the map didn’t make it look like it was so far from the subway, so I decided to walk.

When I got off the subway, the first elevated stop on the line and the highest elevated stop I’ve ever seen, including in Chicago, the neighborhood already looked a little questionable. There was a bus ready to pull away for Red Hook, but I decided to walk anyway. Big mistake. The walk was, well, kind of terrifying. I was accosted two minutes in by a guy named Marty who said he was from Staten Island, only had $5 on him and needed another five to catch some kind of a taxi home. I pulled out my wallet and told him I could give him a dollar, as I handed him the bill. “Yeah, but do you have $5? I really need $5,” he said. I told him that was all I could spare and walked away.

Though nobody else tried to talk to me, it was only downhill from there. As I walked, the neighborhood got worse, particularly after I crossed under the highway overpass and headed into Red Hook proper. It was desolate and felt like there was tension in the air. When there was human life present, it was a bunch of guys working on cars up on blocks. At one point, I passed a bodega actually called “Project Food Store.” Even if the projects are right there, who names a store after them? I noticed a family walking together in the same direction I was–a man, a woman and their young child–and sped up so I’d be close to them. I hoped they were following my exact route, but they eventually turned off and I found myself alone again. The streets got emptier and emptier and creepier and creepier, but on the plus side, the fabled Van Brunt Street got closer and closer. I started to think of it as an oasis, as the promised land, and of myself as on not an aimless jaunt on an unseasonably warm day but on a journey. Finally, on a street as scary as any, I saw somebody jogging toward me in a T-shirt and shorts, headphones dangling from his ears, and knew I was nearing the promised land. Nobody dangerous jogs. (This is also true of people walking dogs.) I got to Van Brunt half a block later.

Van Brunt didn’t feel nearly as dangerous. Yet it didn’t feel completely safe, either. I felt about 90-percent safe. The really strange thing was this: On a 72-degree day in January, on the hottest street in the hottest neighborhood in Brooklyn, there was hardly anybody there. Boerum Hill had been packed–even the side streets had a healthy amount of pedestrian traffic–but on Van Brunt, I’d only pass somebody every block or so. I’d say about three out of every four people were old-school locals, and the fourth was an obvious hipster. As for the street itself? From a sociological standpoint, fascinating. As a destination, nothing to write home about. There were lots of little convenience stores and places selling things like vacuum parts, interspersed with a hip shop, restaurant or bar every two blocks or so. What felt really strange was that on this gritty, unspectacular street in what still felt like a “bad neighborhood,” there was tons of construction going on and empty storefronts had signs in the window informing passersby they were for rent by Corcoran. If you want to see what a neighborhood in the early stages of gentrification looks like, head straight to Van Brunt Street. But take the bus.

But the most interesting part of my visit to Red Hook was that it really drove home what I was already settling on as the answer for why Forest Hills never got hip:

It isn’t grungy enough.
Hipsters of all economic strata like to feel like they’re “slumming it.” When I was looking for a good outer-borough neighborhood to relocate to with Melissa, I misinterpreted this truth. I looked at neighborhoods that were once undesirable and were now the talk of the town, and I figured the common thread was that hipsters liked the idea of living in uncool neighborhoods because doing so made them so much cooler. As tough as it might be for a recent New York transplant to believe, there was a time not so long ago when nothing sounded less cool than “the Lower East Side,” “Williamsburg,” “Astoria,” “Long Island City.” I like to call this the Knitting Phenomenon. Ten years ago, the least hip thing in the world was knitting. So of course, a few intrepid hipsters had to start doing it, because they don’t care what you think! They’ll engage the same hobby as their grandmother and they’ll like it! Today, of course, knitting is so hip that it’s probably becoming unhip again. I figured, hey, Forest Hills is unhip. What better neighborhood to sprout some T-shirt boutiques and poetry-slam coffee shops?

But nobody is ever going to move to Forest Hills and feel like they’re slumming it. It includes Forest Hills Gardens, one of the richest neighborhoods in all of New York City, where small townhouses routinely go for $2.5 million. It’s home to a snooty, exclusive tennis center that hosted the U.S. Open for years. It’s continually ranked one of the safest neighborhoods in the five boroughs, safer than any neighborhood in Manhattan. Worse yet, it feels safe. Somehow, you can be on a deserted back street and feel like you could wave around a couple fifties. Even if you move to fashionable Williamsburg and pay twice what I do for significantly less space, you’re going to score way better street cred. Beggars! Graffiti! A whiff of hard drugs! And if you can do this in a neighborhood where celebrities live, just imagine how awesome you’ll be when you live in Red Hook. Or Bedford-Stuyvesant, a neighborhood so cool that no less of a dork than Billy Joel once suggested in a song that he was afraid to enter it.

Melissa and I would love to live in an ultra-hip neighborhood. But sadly, we’re lousy gentrifiers. We’re scared of our own shadows and would not like to become the victims of street crime anytime in the near future. And we don’t have enough money to move to a neighborhood–Boerum Hill, say–that’s still cool but no longer feels dangerous.

But I like it in Forest Hills. I like it a lot. And many a sour 75-year-old biddy agrees with me.

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43 responses to “On the hipness of neighborhoods

  1. You probably already have, but read the graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman, which takes place in Rego Park/Forest Hills. There’s even a map of your nabe on the back.

  2. Spider-Man was from Forest Hills, beat that Williamsburg.
    Though the question is, was Peter Parker so un-hip that he made it through the un-hipness all the way back to hip?

  3. I have indeed read Maus, long before I ever lived in the area. But it’s been long enough since I read it that I’ve been thinking of reading it again, so maybe I’ll take your advice!

    Was Peter Parker actually a faux-unhip hip guy? C’mon, he was into photography. By the way, watching Spider-Man 2 at the big multiplex in Forest Hills was awesome because people in the audience kept shouting out, “That’s us!”

  4. What I don’t get is why not use the tennis stadium for outdoor concerts in the summer? seeing how its a 2 minute walk from a LIRR station thats 10 minutes from manhattan it would be perfect.

  5. I passed that stadium on a regular basis for years while growing up on Long Island and jetting back and forth to the city on the LIRR, and until I moved here, I never even really knew what it was. It’s really a huge missed opportunity. My guess is that the tennis people have been kind of insular since the loss of the Open and would rather not let outsiders in.

  6. I live in Williamsburg and don’t have to cross a street to get on the subway. But I have always liked Forest Hills and I do take the G and E and hang out there (the B&N is more comfortable than a lot of others in the city) and walk around Continental Avenue sometimes.

    There are many great neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx that hipsters may never want to live in, and I think your analysis of the reasons is astute.

    You are lucky to live in Forest Hills.

  7. If you’re looking for grit and edge in Forest Hills, I have some hope for you yet my friend. Did you know that not far from your home, in Kew Gardens near the corner of Lefferts and Austin, lies the scene of one of the most infamous murders that defined NYC’s stereotype as a war zone of out-of-control crime and urban indifference for a generation? I’m talking about the 1964 Kitty Genovese murder, when a girl screamed over and over for help as she was being stabbed to death, and a whole apartment building full of people shut their windows:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitty_Genovese

    Sure they shot a school principal in Red Hook, but nothing beats the original tale of brutality and apathy that ushered in nearly three decades of life behind seven locks on apartment doors. Williamsburg, top that!

    Also, re spaces: last I checked (circa 1993), there was a rundown art deco theatre just 30 feet away on Lefferts that was being used as a porn theatre. Beautiful art deco architecture and fixtures, buried under layers of paint, grime, and god-knows-what-else. Scare off the raincoat crowd, bring in some promoters, and you’ve got your next Bowery Ballroom right here.

    By the way: excellent and thoughtful article.

  8. Richard: It is a very happy day for me indeed to learn that Williamsburg residents hang out in Forest Hills. I’m telling everybody about this.

    Noah: Thanks for the compliment! I did know about Kitty Genovese, and in fact, I read the short book that started all the hysteria. But have you been to that area lately? It’s pretty idyllic — any stabbings would be purely coincidental. What’s more, if you’re talking about the same theater I’m thinking of, it’s now a great art-house theater. Never been to it, but I’ve heard terrific things.

  9. Steve: thanks for the link to the Genovese book. And thanks also for the great news on the theater! Hey: doesn’t having an art-house theater bring the area one step closer to being . . . hip? Great to hear all is flourishing out there, will have to revisit. I miss Eddie’s Sweet Shop especially (on Metropolitan Ave.)

  10. Wow, by far the longest post on Forest Hills on the Internet, ever. Good work. You might not believe it but Forest Hills, like any othe neighborhood in Brooklyn, the Urkaine or Nebraska, was a lot cooler before “you” got there.

  11. Great article. I’ve lived in FH for25 years and watched it change and change and change again. I love it – maybe I’m not looking for the coolest place on the planet at this point. FH is beautiful, safe, ethnically diverse, has more than its fair share of movies and places to eat. You can’t find a place to stand or park on a Thursday or Saturday night on Austin Street, since FH is one of the few Queens neighborhoods with an actual night life. Expensive? Depends on what you’re looking for.

  12. The art-house theater is indeed a great step. And because I’m on the Kew Gardens side of Forest Hills, not all that crazy a walk! Also, somebody graffitied up my entire two-block walk to the subway late last night, so that’s a step in the right direction.

    By definition, every neighborhood is cooler before I get there!

    Benita, it’s interesting that you mention Forest Hills’ ethnic diversity. I’ve thought for a while that it’s really one of the nabe’s strong suits. Many neighborhoods are so segregated, but this one really isn’t at all. And your various ethnic groups get along impressively, which is sadly incredibly rare in most places.

  13. um, did you really go to red hook and not go to the water? nobody comes here for the project food store, although i hear project food store 2.0 (aka fairway) is also a destination.

  14. I didn’t! Is there something special about the water? I’ve seen a lot of water. I heard there was key-lime pie on the water, but I hit Baked first and certainly couldn’t do both.

    The bus I took back from Red Hook was full of people who had just been to Fairway.

  15. I’ve lived in FH for a few years, and though I liked it at first (coming from Rocky Point in Long Island, any city neighborhood looks good), I have grown tired of it. My girl and I plan to move in September, probably to Carroll Gardens.

    The ethnic diversity (read: immigrants) of Forest Hills is the source of entrepreneurial energy in the area. And, frankly, they’re not only unhip in their offerings but also incompetent. There are plenty of examples, but here are two:

    1) Crepe-n-Tearia on Austin. What the hell is this place? They advertise crepes that feature delicious combinations such tuna, lettuce, corn, mayonnaise and ketchup. Why would anyone with a minimal sense of what good food constitutes want to eat there?

    2) The Asian fusion place on Continental across from the LIRR station. Asian fusion was cool — about 12 years ago. But this one can’t even get right – their idea of fusion is serving both Thai and Japanese, rather than actually trying to construct a menu that combines the two cuisines.

    Question: Where is Forest Hill’s version of Grey Dog, or Waterfront Ale House? Everytime something closes down on Austin St. (which is a frequent occurrence), I pray that a restaurant serving reasonably modern American fare and beer above the caliber of Miller Lite will open. Inevitably, though, its a bank or another salon. Things change, but they don’t really change.

    Another thought – commercial real estate prices on Austin St. are incredibly expensive, which limits the potential pool of entrepreneurs willing to open innovative stores in the ‘hood. I guess Thais must have lots of free cash, because every other new restaurant is a Thai place (and none of them approach the quality of Song or Joya in Brooklyn, which offer better food at 75% of the price).

    Given the rents, I think the hip development in FH could actually happen on Metropolitan Ave rather than Austin St.

    I’ll miss 5 Burro, though – one of my absolute favorites in NYC. Those steak tacos….my gawd.

  16. I completely agree with a lot of what you’re saying! Though I’m not tired of it as you are, my love for the Hills is not unconditional. I totally feel your pain because I play the “I hope something cool opens in this empty storefront” game, too, and I usually experience the inevitable disappointment when it’s another bank. I’d love to live in Carroll Gardens, too, but it’s much much more expensive. I recently bought a co-op in the neighborhood, and when my old landlord had an open house for my old apartment, one couple that came in told me they were moving from Carroll Gardens. Out of curiosity, I went over to Craigslist and did a search in Carroll Gardens for apartments for sale in my price range. I found one apartment. One! A tiny studio somewhere. My point isn’t that Forest Hills is the greatest neighborhood out there, just that it’s great for the money. You get what you pay for. If you’d like to make the move to Brooklyn, more power to you, but I’ll keep my two bedroom.

    You’re on the right track about Metropolitan Avenue. DB Wine Bar, which just opened over the summer, is a great example. But Metropolitan’s terrible access to public transportation is what’s going to keep it from blowing up, I think.

    By the way, if you want to talk Asian fusion, there’s a new “Asian fusion” place that just opened up a block from my office in the city. In terms of menu, decor, service, you name it, there is absolutely no discernible difference between it and every other hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant in Manhattan.

  17. I think all of us faux hipster souls of Forest Hills need to form a Neighborhood Commiseration Committee (FHNCS), with meetings to take place at Friday’s (just to add to the pain)…who’s with me?

  18. Unlike SoHo and Greenwich Village, which have a diversity of architectural styles and alleys, Forest Hills and Rego Park are divided into a boring rectangular street grid. Williamsburg has a rooftop cinema- most rooftops in Rego Park are off-limits to residents.

    There is an art gallery on Metropolitan Avenue.

  19. Actually, part of Rego Park is known for its
    crescent street grid. 63rd Drive Subway station used to be home to underground punk club in the 1980’s called “Subway” and allegedly Sonic Youth played there.

    The area around Metropolitan Ave. near 71st Ave. /Continental reminds me of outer neighborhoods of London. Would be a great place for a Saturday antiques market along the lines of Notting Hill. There already are some interesting antiques shops there. It is in desperate need of a cafe. True, transportation is not the best, but on the upside there is always parking. I would love it if the hipsters came- we are so close to Brooklyn border (not bad ride on Q54 bus), but I would be very surprised if the area boomed in my lifetime. Also no one wants to capitalize on the fact that we are so close to airports and could draw tourists.

    Poetry and music readings on occasion at Bliss cafe in Kew Gardens LIRR and at Munch cafe on Yellowstone Ave. (Munch also exhibits artwork)

    Great pub in the area is Woodhaven House on Woodhaven Blvd, it’s better than majority of what’s on Austin Street and on par with pubs in Sunnyside and Manhattan.

    That said, I’m considering moving from the area. Queens has its moments though. Creative types have managed here- Kerouac lived 15 minutes away in Ozone Park.

    Interesting topic.

  20. I forgot about Munch! Cool place in a very strange area. Kind of off the beaten track. I only know it because I looked at an apartment right around the corner. (It was kind of expensive, though huge, but most of all, I decided it was a little far from the subway. When “express bus” is the first thing that comes out of someone’s mouth when I ask about transportation options, I have a tendency to run for it.)

  21. Fuck you hipsters, fuck you gentrifiers, and fuck you suburbanites – Forest Hills will never be ‘hip’

    Now stay the fuck out of Queens, because you will never be welcome here.

    Go back to Long Guyland, Joisey, and Worstchester where you can spend mommy’s and daddy’s credit card on $90 ‘Ironic’ t-shirts

    NYC was doing fine before your kind came in.

  22. You mean the crime-ridden, rat-infested, crack-ho’d NYC of the 1980s? That New York City? I guess that was fine…compared to Lagos.

  23. I was BORN and raised in Rego Park, Queens and am afraid to say that I share the honor with you of this being HOME. As a child, I knew the old women who used to own all the farmland that went up to 63rd Drive Station. As someone who has earned their bread and butter among the yuppies of Manhattan while commuting from Queens, and who volunteered after 9-11 to get food to the firefighters, I feel strong ties to this area and have supported local businesses.

    It is the negative attitude of Queens “locals”
    that keeps this place as run-down as it is and make me want to leave. I welcome anyone from out of town willing to invest in the area. I would love to see someone do here what the girl who runs Sustainable South Bronx did.

    In my humble experience the people who do the whole anti-hipster rant tend to embody the lifestyle they “hate.”

    At least take out a book from the library so you can frame your points better- you’re making us “locals” look bad. Educate yourself about the recent case that Native American tribes are making to land in this area.

    This topic is interesting, funny to hear that other folk also think this place has potential but are also drawn to Brooklyn because they can’t wait for Queens to “happen,” if it ever will.

    Queens will never be Brooklyn, but it has its advantages: lots of trees and people feel safe to bicycle, cheap rent for NYC. Queens, the Portland, OR of NYC?….Like I said earlier, I wish, but I doubt it.

  24. I was also BORN and raised in Rego Park, Queens and am afraid to say that I share the honor with you of this being HOME. Queens is the most diverse county in the United States, but it won’t be for long at this rate. Hipsters, Sex-And-The-City Wannabes, and Trust Fund Babies are moving into New York, driving up rent and driving out lower to middle class residents. No longer will New York have it’s own culture – it will turn into upper class suburbia.

    Ever watch ‘Everybody Loves Chris’? It’s a show about Chris Rock’s childhood – he grew up in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Look at Bed-Stuy now. Already gentrified, it’s full of Starbucks and Applebees. It’s so disgusting. 20 years ago, half of the current residents would have gotten shot and/or mugged just for setting foot in the neighborhood.

    Bed-Stuy, Williamsburg, and about 96% of Manhattan below 110th Street have already fallen victim to gentrification. Who’s going to pay $2000 a month for a one bedroom apartment?

    Crime-ridden, rat-infested, crack-ho’d NYC of the 1980s is a lot better than the starbucks-filled, hipster-infested, suburbian-cultured NYC of the future. ‘Coming to America’, a 1988 movie about an African prince coming to Queens to find a bride was a great movie. At the rate NYC is changing, if Prince Akeem was born 100 years later, the only brides he would find would spend his fortune on Manolo Blahnik shoes to look ‘fabulous like carrie bradshaw’ and then proceed to divorce him and take half because she ‘doesn’t do minorities’

    Donald Trump, Spike Lee, Bob Costas, Ray Romano, Chris Rock, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Michael Jordan are just a handful of the people from New York City. When has a hipster ever made something of himself? Oh that’s right, hipsters don’t work, that’s too ‘Bohemian’, after all, what else are their trust funds for? In the future, New York City may never have the culture it once had.

    But it’s ‘hip’, right?

    Viva la resistance!

  25. i too was born and raised in the ‘hood — kew gardens to be exact. needless to say i’ve spent alot of time in FH.

    and after living throughout the city — most notably 6 years in park slope, which i still miss, though not the strollers and rents — I retured to FH where my husband and i have happily resided for the past 4+ years.

    i don’t really consider us ‘hipsters’, though we both work in the music industry, are under 35, have no kids, and go out alot, so i guess we sort of qualify.

    reading this blog post was like reading a condensed version of the thousands of conversations i’ve had about life in forest hills. well done.

    and please — NO MORE BANKS! my first born for a decent bar.

    (ps — the other day i spotted an atypical — read: hipster-ish — couple crossing the boulevard of death and literally did a double-take. maybe it was you guys…)

  26. You know, I’ve found that when hip, cosmopolitan people do move to Forest Hills, it’s often people who grew up in the area. I guess they’re not immune to its charms. The fact that they choose to move back and are happy there despite occasional complaints–and let’s face it, who doesn’t complain about their neighborhood?–convinces me that maybe there’s something to this place. I myself grew up on Long Island on the Queens border and passed through Forest Hills either via LIRR or car practically every time I went to and from Manhattan, plus my mom has worked in Kew Gardens since I was about 2 years old, so I wasn’t exactly unfamiliar with the neighborhood when I moved in.

    I’m not a very hip-looking guy, though maybe I am for the neighborhood. My wife is a little edgier. Maybe you spotted us with the hip Time Out New York writer who came to stay with us for an article last weekend!

    By the way, I’ve totally read your Gothamist interview before.

  27. Oh also — there’s a very cool brewery in Red Hook called Sixpoint. Yes near the water. Not a reason to live there of course. I checked them out during OHNY.

    Take the Water Taxi next time. From LIC.
    🙂

  28. laurence;
    you sound like a serious asshole.

  29. Great post on the neighborhood! We’ve been here nearly 11 years and we never get tired of people from Manhattan coming to visit and saying either “wow, it’s so nice!” or “wow, it’s so close!”

  30. I know these are old posts, but just found them and am enjoying the read.

    Yes, my floor on my apartment on Burns St. (all the way on the end – technically in Rego Park but could use Forest Hills 11375 on address and would still get mail) was the most ethnically diverse floor ever. After moving from living in Manhattan for 11+ years – it was a shock to smell people actually using their apartments for cooking – and then all the smells, asain, indian, carribean, etc… mmmmm…

    When we had to vacate Forest Hills – we moved to Briarwood from 2000-2002. No, compared to Briarwood – Forest Hills is super hip :). But holy crap you should have seen the size of my 3 bedroom 2 bath apartment that I was renting for $1300. I still can’t believe I gave that up and didn’t sublet when it was time to move again. But w/ the kiddo now – If I ever move back I’d try to find someplace in FH for the school district issues.

  31. The diversity around here really is a big asset. I’ve commented before that a lot of diverse neighborhoods suffer from a lot of ethnic strife, one group hating the next. But Forest Hills isn’t like that. As far as I know.

    I’ve heard there are great deals in Briarwood! I haven’t spent much time exploring — I’m not sure there’s much to explore — but if I’m not mistaken, they just built a luxury condo building there that got a lot of people scratching their heads. As for FH schools, I’m not sure I’ll still be here in my junior 4 when a hypothetical kid rolls around, but I do like the fact that he or she would go to P.S. 101, the School in the Gardens. Doesn’t get much better than that in New York City.

  32. check out The Shops at Atlas Park – excellent retail where the prices are letting entrepreneurs bring stores like Stella Gialla and Blue Tulip and Crazy for Animals to our backyard!

  33. Pingback: Park Slope Live » Blog Archive » Why Isn’t Forest Hills Hip Like Red Hook?

  34. Pingback: Queens Central » Confirmed: Nice neighborhoods are lame

  35. Hell no, FH is not hip. The restaurants remind me of the Upper West Side. It is lively at night, though. I live on the border of Forest Hills and Rego Park in an area that I like to call Altakockerstan. Those of you who’ve been will understand.

  36. I moved to FH in November ’06 from Soho. Was tired of renting, wanted to own, but couldn’t stomach the thought of paying $500K+ for a 400sf studio. So somehow I stumbled onto/into FH. All my friends live either in the city or Brooklyn, so I am the pioneer of the crew. I do miss the things I took for granted in Soho: cafes, boutiques, great restaurants…but I don’t miss renting! Love my 1BR here, and the neighborhood is gorgeous. Love it that I see “real and different people” here. I work in music/entertainment, and it gets a bit much seeing those sorts day in/day out. The E/F train is super fast too…who knew?! And when I’m out in the city at night (which is most nights), getting a cab from LES, EV, Soho, Nolita is easy and the ride doesn’t cost as much as I had thought it would.

    I think I’ll stay in FH for a while…

  37. I don’t understand why so many women go crazy for Manolos.

  38. Great comments, FH is very diverse in every aspect including it’s architecture. I’m a real estate agent in the area, and i have seen people from the “hip” areas looking to buy or rent within the forest hills/kew gardens/rego park area. It’s one of the few areas where you still get a good bang for your buck. Plus it’s close to the airports, the city, long island etc….

  39. I grew up in Forest Hills and lived in Manhattan and it really is just a step from the city. It appears you are not a native NYer because to grow up you learn to save your dollars and buy a house.condo. Manhattan is lovely, but not good for children rather hipsters as you say…20/30 somethings..which is probably your age bracket… Forest Hills is not new and has been around forever…believe me. There is only one club there and it is terrible. Anyone from that area does not go in. What you will find are Mafia guys who never left Corona…Spaghetti Park if you should know. They are leftovers (maybe the meatballs) and belong in a club such as that. Also, you will find many foreigners from eastern europe and Israel – as you know the US gives Israeli’s green cards easily which is why the neighborhood looks so good. You may want to write an artice on that and the unfairness of the federal governement. The nice thing about Forest Hills are the restaurants and shops. This is not a place to party rather a neighborhood. Go to Manhattan if you want to dance. I am a Fashion Show Producer and though my job requires 14 hours of work a day I do not mind coming home to my co-op apt. in Forest Hills. When I retire I am off to Nice, FR.

  40. Is that a new way? Tell me about my hopeful rope I have a good fresh joke for you! What do snowmen eat for breakfast? Snowflakes.

  41. Great post (found it through Google because I’m interviewing with co’s in NY). I’m still relatively young, in my mid-twenties and I’m doing my best to see a lot of the world, different types of neighborhoods and picture my life settled in any of these places. I’m glad that I’m doing this because I had in my head, lots of places I thought I’d be content with and after saying, welp maybe it’s time to put down roots, I realized, no, definitely not here. Knowing what you value in where you live and being able to prioritize “wouldn’t it be nice if” and what’s affordable is a skill I haven’t quite acquired yet.

    Glad you’re content with your abode 🙂

  42. This is a topic which is close to my heart… Best wishes!
    Where are your contact details though?

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