A post office deemed risque 1The Forest Hills post office under construction in September 1938 and completed in 1940. The topless female sculpture above the door was criticized at the time. The building behind the facility is labeled “Forest Hills Fireproof Storage.”
|Forest Hills Post Office in September 1938 - Courtesy of Ron Marzlock, Queens Chronicle Historian|
|2007 photo courtesy of Greg Godfrey|
Queens Chronicle: A Post Office Deemed Risque
In the 1930s, most post offices in Queens were little candy store-type buildings housing only a few letter carrier routes in a leased building.
In June 1936, the Emergency Construction Program Act was passed. Politically strong Forest Hills was able to arrange the construction of a federal building to house a post office, at 106-28 Queens Blvd.
The new building was to be a showpiece of the area, topped off with a sculpture called “The Spirit of Communication.” The Art Deco-style work, a bare-breasted woman holding a clock and dove, was denounced by conservative 1938 Forest Hills as bad art in bad taste. But sculptor Sten Jacobson’s creation was valued at more than $150,000 in 1990, and is protected today and cared for by the General Services Administration.
Most other buildings of the era put up by the Works Progress Administration got a painting for artwork. Forest Hills got real sculpture. The other fortunate areas of Queens to secure WPA buildings for a post office were Jackson Heights, Woodhaven, Far Rockaway and Flushing. All of them are protected by landmark status.
Today, the fine 71-year-old structure facing MacDonald Park is dwarfed by the highly-concentrated apartment houses which have since engulfed so much of Forest Hills. At least it’s not one of the five post offices in Queens the United States Postal Service is considering closing.
|"The Spirit of Communication" adorns the terra-cotta facade. Recent photos courtesy of Michael Perlman, Chair of Rego-Forest Preservation Council|
|Polished brass doors bear Art Deco handles|
|The Forest Hills Post Office made the grade on the 10th annual walking tour of Downtown Forest Hills in September 2010 by Historian Jeff Gottlieb, President of the Central Queens Historical Association.|