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12 December 2007

FoHi NY

We all like to think of ourselves as unique, but Forest Hill does have an alter ego in New York City.

Forest Hills is in the borough of Queens and used to be the home of the US Open tennis tournament. Our funds don’t quite cover an all-expenses-paid research trip to New York so we had to rely on the internet to get us in touch with Peter Dutton who’s lived in Forest Hills for 11 years. He writes a blog (online diary) about the area and beyond, which you can read at http://joeshlabotnik.livejournal.com

Why did you decide to live in Forest Hills, Peter?
We moved here because my wife works in Manhattan and I work on Long Island. It's close to both. And you get the amenities of the city with a suburban lifestyle. It's not perfect, but we like it enough.

So how many forests and how many hills do you actually have?
The pithy answer is "Forest Hills has neither forests nor hills". There are nicely tree-lined neighborhoods now, but before it was developed, Forest Hills was farmland. It was named after nearby Forest Park, which does have a big forest. And the land slopes away on the border of Rego Park, but it's hardly a real hill.

What’s the best thing about living in Forest Hills?
Living in such a beautiful quiet peaceful neighborhood about 20 minutes from Times Square, 10 minutes from the airports, 30 minutes from the beach...

And the worst?
Lots of negativity; lots of people who complain about *everything*.

Any famous residents?

Spider-Man!
(His “real” name is Peter Parker and, according to Marvel Comics, he was orphaned at the age of six and went to live with his aunt and uncle in Forest Hills, New York – ed)

Where would I go for a great night out?
Manhattan. Our restaurant situation isn't exactly dire - there are places worth eating here in Forest Hills, though not much worth travelling for. And we're only 10 minutes by subway from Jackson Heights where you can get some of the best ethnic food in the city (and by extension, the best ethnic food in the country). As for bars, well, that's never been our strong suit. I don't mind having to go to Manhattan for a good place - if I'm going to stay in the neighborhood to drink, I may as well just stay home.

Forest Hill has a large, stuffed walrus in the Horniman Museum. What’s your equivalent?
Well, the most famous landmark is the decaying tennis stadium where they used to play the U.S. Open. But for strange, "Civic Virtue" comes to mind, but that's just over the border in Kew Gardens.
(Civic Virtue is a statue of a muscular, nude, male youth with two vanquished women representing corruption and vice at his feet. It is not universally loved, to say the least - ed)

What’s public transport like?

Fantastic. 24-hour subway and railroad lines. Gets you to Manhattan easily.

And what would make life in Forest Hills even better?
A better selection of restaurants and cafes.

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