Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Station Square: Restoring The Gateway To Forest Hills Gardens

By Michael Perlman

The talk of the town is the much-anticipated Station Square Restoration Project, announced last week by the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation, which maintains the character of Forest Hills Gardens, an earliest planned garden community in America, originating in 1909.

The Forest Hills Inn triumphs over the stately Station Square, Photo by Michael Perlman, November 2015

Station Square, November 2015 photo by Michael Perlman
A statement read, “This will be a multi-faceted project with many phases, and involving more than just the restoration of the historic road surface. All the public utilities will also be upgraded, including their infrastructure, once the roadway is opened.” The project will commence this week and continue through 2018. While vehicular traffic will be off limits east of Continental Avenue, emergency vehicles will be permitted. 

Station Square circa 1916 to 1920 postcard, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council
Local residents began to discuss Station Square’s history and their hopes for a community anchor. Sir Leonard Lombard, a director of the Station Square Inn Apartments Corp said, “What makes its ambiance unique is the whimsical Arts & Crafts style that the architects employed, combined with the fantasy-like Neuschwanstein romantic road castle. The architectural and cultural history, which was in vogue at that time, is unlikely to be duplicated with today's technology and state-of-the-art construction methods.” He hopes the restoration will continue with the facades. “I hope to see a more unified commercial look and more upscale shops along Station Square.” 

Inspired by Sir Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City Movement, this model residential development was designed by principal architect Grosvenor Atterbury and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. Station Square accommodated a classy social life, particularly at the spire-adorned Forest Hills Inn, which opened in 1912 and offered 150 rooms, adjoining the Raleigh apartments on the east and the Marlboro apartments on the west. The LIRR Station, accessible from the Inn through arcades and bridges sheltering residents and visitors from the weather, enabled a 13-minute commute to Manhattan. Historic events transpired, including annual 4th of July celebrations, and at the Station, where Col. Theodore Roosevelt delivered his “100 Percent American” speech on July 4, 1917, and Helen Keller greeted over 1,200 soldiers of the Rainbow Division that same year. 

LIRR Station with original fountain as the centerpiece circa1915, Courtesy of Susanna & Robert Hof
When guests and prospective residents of the Forest Hills Gardens picked up a copy of “Forest Hills Inn,” an early 20th century illustrated pamphlet by philanthropic organization Russell Sage Foundation’s subsidiary, Sage Foundation Homes Company, they learned about the Gardens’ benefits of location, education, and business, as evident by the planning of parks and open spaces alongside homes with architectural treatment. It read, “Grouped around the arcade, through whose arches may be seen the Common, the groves, and the homes of Forest Hills Gardens, are attractive stores and shops that supply every normal want. In the center of the Square, the play of a fountain adds to the vivacity and charm of the scene. The architecture and plan of Station Square have been designed to provide an attractive spot for the common use and pleasure of residents. Beauty, harmony, and utility are here combined in a unique way.” 

Grosvenor Atterbury's sketch of Station Square, circa 1909 - 1910, Courtesy of Susanna & Robert Hof
One couple who builds upon the history of their families living in the Gardens since its origins is Susanna and Robert Hof, owners and managing brokers of Terrace Sotheby’s International Realty, which occupies three Station Square storefronts. Since pedestrians will be channeled onto the sidewalks, he said, “We see it as a net neutral or even positive aspect for businesses.”

The project will preserve and utilize the roadway’s authentic bricks, which will be stored in a loading area along Greenway Terrace. Robert H. explained, “The distance between the roadbed and the sidewalk has deepened. The brickwork, in the pattern of a Union Jack is sacred, and where there are gaps, they will be filled in with proper vintage bricks of the same type and acquired potentially from Upstate New York.”

Susanna H. provided further insight. “As part of the plan, the Forest Hills Gardens Corp. is trying to work out the details to restore the large decorative lanterns that hang from the facades.” The center island is also expected to be repaired, which is where a fountain once provided water for horses, and then around 1916, two kiosks were added and would function as police and taxi outposts. “It is wonderful how it evolved into a sitting area,” she said.

In a joint statement, they explained, “We are very enthused over the restoration plans, and thank Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, who was instrumental in arranging a grant which helps all of us.”

Wendy Bachman, president of Friends of Station Square admires how Station Square was described as "one of the finest public spaces in America" by Robert A.M. Stern, former dean of the Yale School of Architecture and founder of architectural firm RAMSA. “The LIRR, Forest Hills Gardens Corporation, and Friends of Station Square collaborated for over 25 years to raise funds and seek guidance in maintaining this American architectural jewel,” she said.

Past restoration success stories include the center island in 1995, the LIRR Station in 1999 after being deemed “National Register - Eligible,” and landscaping as the result of the Millennium Appeal from 2000 to 2001. She continued, “The guts of the square need a complete overhaul. After the restoration is complete, my hope is that it will take another 100 years before any work of this magnitude.” 

The Sage Foundation’s 1912 ad read, “Endowed by nature with every beauty, the country is disfigured by towns, cities, and suburban developments which make a sorry and hideous spectacle. Our rapid growth may be a reason for our having neglected to take some thought of how we were planning and what we were building, but the time has come for more forethought, and this excuse should no longer be tolerated.”

This precise planning lives up to its testament. “I feel truly blessed to live in Station Square and love looking out my window, seeing the clock and life in Forest Hills Gardens passing by, changing with seasons,” said Mr. James, who embraces the turn-of-the-century ambiance. He continued, “One observation is the expression on people's faces when they step off the LIRR for the first time, wondering where they are, and amazed with what they are seeing in Queens.” 

Forest Hills Inn & Station Square with ivy, 1966 postcard courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

A similar version appeared in Michael Perlman's Forest Hills Times column:

For updates on the Station Square Restoration Project, email the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation at  

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Preservation Call For Local Bank Buildings

Local Banks Offer A “Rich” Architectural History
by Michael Perlman

Between the 1939 World’s Fair and 1964 World’s Fair, local communities such as Forest Hills, Rego Park, and Kew Gardens Hills experienced much growth in development, marked by architectural achievements. Now it is time to have a look at noteworthy examples of banks, ranging from traditional Colonial to Classical Moderne and Modernist styles, which offered a sense of permanence. Some have remained banks, while others have been repurposed.

“These banks tell the story of Queens as a rapidly growing borough in the mid-20th century, and the architects of these branches who were among the most prominent designers of bank institutions in New York City at the time,” said Frampton Tolbert, architectural historian and creator of the Queens Modern project. “Bank companies including Ridgewood Savings Bank, Queens County Savings Bank, and Long Island City Savings Bank were among the first companies opening in the neighborhood, looking to provide much-needed services to the influx of new residents.” Many were also situated along Queens Boulevard a short distance away from recently expanded subway lines. “These were especially an opportunity for a show-stopping design such as the Metropolitan Industrial Bank,” said Tolbert. 

Queens County Savings Bank resembling Independence Hall, Kew Gardens Hills, 1954
It is rare opportunity to encounter a nearly faithful replica of Independence Hall in Kew Gardens Hills. The Georgian Colonial style Queens County Savings Bank at 75-44 Main Street, designed by architect Harold O. Carlson, was the recipient of a 1st prize bronze plaque by the Queens Chamber of Commerce in 1954. Rising from its gabled wings is a 100-foot tower featuring clocks, a cupola, and a weathervane that continues to mark the community’s highest point. The foyer includes a replica of the Liberty Bell, and the banking hall is graced with paintings such as the Signers of the Declaration of Independence and Washington Crossing the Delaware. In 2005, the bank was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and commemorated in a 2006 ceremony led by Queens Historian Jeff Gottlieb and banking and elected officials.

Linda Fisher, a licensed tour guide with the Guides Association of NYC explained, “Banks were designed to evoke feelings of confidence and stability, and this would account for Classical elements such as columns. This would have roots in Ancient Rome, where the Maison Carrée served as the model for government buildings, and although bank buildings are owned by private institutions, the architecture imbues the principles of solidity and democratic ideals.” 

Tower Diner, formerly Emigrant Savings Bank, Photo by Michael Perlman
Tower Diner has been enticing palates since 1993 at 98-95 Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, but originated as City Savings and Loan Association in the mid-1960s, prior to merging with Emigrant Savings Bank. The Colonial façade’s clock tower and pitched roof with columns and cornice detail continue to offer a stately presence amidst traffic. 

Long Island City Savings Bank, Rego Park, 1952
The Colonial-style Long Island City Savings Bank at 97-27 Queens Boulevard in Rego Park was designed by Halsey, McCormack & Helmer, and was awarded during the 1952 Building Awards Competition by the Queens Chamber of Commerce. Notable features include a granite base with piers of face brick and Alabama limestone trim and coping, tall windows, and roundels. High ceilings with moldings and a spacious ambiance once added to the charm. The bank closed in the early 1990s, and today has been subdivided for a pharmacy and Tiger Schulmann's Karate. 

Metropolitan Industrial Bank, Forest Hills, 1952
Bank of America, which recently underwent a conversion for Mount Sinai Doctors at 99-01 Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, opened in 1952 as the Metropolitan Industrial Bank, a Modernist building with industrial materials, which was considered revolutionary at a time of more traditional bank styles. Notable artist Dara Birnbaum, daughter of the late award-winning architect Philip Birnbaum, who was raised around the corner in Birnbaum’s Howard Apartments, said, “I thought it was a real winner, and it did win a 1st prize award by the Queens Chamber of Commerce, as it certainly was more than deserving. In fact, it was one of the jewels of my father's designs through the years.” Striking features include triple-height windows and a colonnade of Swedish granite and stainless steel fins that meet a rotunda entrance with curved glass. Although low-rise partitions have been installed, and the 22’ x 25’ mural commemorating Forest Hills’ growth is long-gone, the streamlined teakwood balcony and a whimsical terrazzo floor are retained. 

Ridgewood Savings Bank, Forest Hills, 1940
Shortly after the three-story Classical Moderne Ridgewood Savings Bank, designed by Halsey, McCormack & Helmer, opened in 1940 on a landscaped triangular plot at 107-55 Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, it also won a first prize award. The convex and concave Alabama Rockwood stone façade includes flat eagles, bronze windows, streamlined and wave-like incised designs, and Moderne clocks. Entering the banking hall, Art Deco fixtures are suspended over a streamlined ceiling designed by famed muralist Angelo Magnanti, and travertine floors exist alongside buff pink Mansota stone walls on a wainscot of polished Rosato D’Or marble carried onto the counters.

As neighborhoods are undergoing development, many residents are realizing the value in buildings that offer historic character. Tolbert explained, “These are the neighborhood landmarks that create a unique sense of place, but only the Ridgewood Savings Bank is currently landmarked (designated in 2000). With changes along Queens Boulevard, others may disappear, so we must preserve our history while we still can, as it is a key piece of how our borough developed into the Queens we know today.” 

On May 6 at 1 PM, architectural historian & Queens Modern project creator Frampton Tolbert will offer a free tour, “Jane's Walk of Forest Hills and Rego Park Modern,” which will begin at MacDonald Park (Queens Blvd & 70th Ave), and stops will include several local banks. For more information, contact  

A similar version of the above feature appears in Michael Perlman's Forest Hills Times column:

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Preservation Call For 3 of Forest Hills’ Earliest Residential Buildings - Save "The Village!"

By Michael Perlman

Forest Hills was named in 1906 by Cord Meyer Development Company, and in the heart of the neighborhood, north of the Forest Hills Gardens, stands a large quantity of buildings designed during its first few decades in the Tudor, Georgian Colonial, Colonial, and Art Deco styles. This collection of architecturally and historically significant buildings, mostly situated between Continental Avenue to Ascan Avenue and Austin Street to Ascan Avenue, comprised what was nicknamed by local residents as “The Village,” which relates to its traditional Old English ambiance, low-rise buildings, and mom and pop shops. They continue to offer much character, but as redevelopment pressures increase for condos and chain stores, sites that are worthy of preservation based on their architectural style, history, and age have become endangered. 

Three of the earliest apartment houses in “The Village” are The Alberta, Harding Court, and the One Continental Avenue Building, which are often overlooked, but remain in a good state of preservation. They were designed by architect Rudolf C.P. Boehler, who was known for his projects in Manhattan from the 1920s to the 1950s, but resorted to Forest Hills which was a desirable community. Selling points included the Long Island Railroad, Forest Park, and recreational facilities for golf and the West Side Tennis Club. 

Alberta Apartments, Photo by Michael Perlman

In an April 1928 ad, the four-story Alberta Apartments, a Tudor standout at 2 Roman Avenue, which has been renumbered 108-22 72nd Avenue, was marketed for being two blocks from the LIRR station, and offered two rooms, a kitchenette, foyer, and bath for rent at $65, three rooms, a foyer, and bath from $75 to $80, and four rooms, a foyer and bath for $105. Since Forest Hills was largely undeveloped, The Alberta was advertised for its view of Kew Gardens to its east and Elmhurst to the west, with an abundance of sunshine, to the benefit of 29 families. Another attraction was every modern convenience including General Electric refrigerators and spacious rooms with high ceilings and several large closets.     

The Alberta was erected by John S. Myers and named after his mother Alberta, which continues to bear homage with an inscription above the arched stone entryway. Other distinctive façade features include a pitched flagstone roof, multi-colored bricks, a half-timber effect accomplished by brick and stucco, ornamental balconies and fire escapes, wooden doors, and a dormer. The foyer area consists of two-tone marble walls and a moulded ceiling, followed by a marble stairway which leads to apartment units. The Alberta was ready for occupancy on October 15, 1923. If a lease was signed prior to its development, Myers offered to prioritize on a color scheme that suited the tenants’ styles. 

Harding Court Apartments in a mid-1920s postcard, Courtesy of Michael Perlman

Nearby, Boehler designed the six-story Tudor-style residence, Harding Court Apartments at 15 Portsmouth Place, which was later renumbered 109-01 72nd Road. This development was underway in September 1923 and bears homage to Warren G. Harding, the 29th U.S. President, whose term began in 1921, but passed away while in office in 1923. Designed by architect Rudolf C.P. Boehler, constructed by the Kholef Construction Company, and built by the Stanhold Company, it would become one of the earliest multi-story “elevator apartment houses” in Forest Hills, with 2 elevators and 44 apartments containing two to seven rooms across from the LIRR. It was ready for occupancy in March 1924, and an ad read “The last word in apartment construction.” Three rooms were rented from $45, whereas 5 rooms were available from $75. A June 1925 ad read “June brides complete your happiness – Live at Harding Court Apartments” and called it the “finest elevator apartments.” In May 1929, its appeal influenced the development of the Forest Hills Library, which became a tenant, attracting 500 subscribers in its first couple of weeks.

Harding Court’s façade also featured half timbers, brick and stucco, and a gabled slate roof, in addition to decorative stone lintels, Old English storefronts, and a courtyard leading to the stone entranceway, where an inscription bears “Harding Court.” Stepping inside is a spacious vestibule area with detailed stone walls with moldings, a mantle, and an arched ceiling.

One Continental Avenue Building, Photo by Michael Perlman

The One Continental Avenue Building, also known as 107-37 Continental Avenue, was designed as a 4-story residential and commercial complement to the ambiance of Station Square. In 1922, it was advertised that the three uppermost floors would have three apartments each, offering the benefit of all tenants having a view of Queens Boulevard and Continental Avenue. In 1926, a tenant could pay $125 for five large rooms and a bath. Some of the earliest businesses were the Sage Forest Hills Associates, Inc, Forest Hills Beauty Shop, and Hughes and Lewis Dressmakers.

Rudolf C.P. Boehler served as architect and engineer, and work was underway by the Fifth Avenue Studio, Inc. Distinctive features include a pitched slate roof, a half timber effect accomplished by brick and pea gravel, and an arched entryway with vines extending from cartouches which leads to a central section of limestone quoins topped off by a crest.

Beauty is in the detail, as evident by these additional photos... 

Alberta Apartments

Harding Court Apartments

One Continental Avenue Building

A similar version of this feature story appears in Michael Perlman's Forest Hills Times column:

Monday, February 26, 2018

Tribute To Black History At The Iconic Forest Hills Stadium

By Michael Perlman

The 1968 Forest Hills Music Festival pamphlet featuring the concert lineup & Forest Hills Inn ads, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council
As February comes to a close, it is important to reflect on Black History Month, understand its origins, and realize that several thousands of fans attended world-class concerts at Forest Hills Stadium to enjoy the sounds of African American artists who made history on its stage and have acquired an international presence. There were over 20 musical acts, which included Diana Ross & The Supremes, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis, Jr, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Donna Summer, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. 

Courtesy of The Chess Drum
The advocacy of Carter G. Woodson, an African American educator and historian, who is known as the “Father of Black History” created “Negro History Week” in 1926, when the iconic Stadium was only three years old. One week in February was designated to commemorate the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. However, it was not until 1970 that the initial celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State University, and became national in 1976, when President Ford encouraged Americans to “honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor.” 

Ella Fitzgerald in 1963 Forest Hills Music Festival program
On August 5, 1961, fans of Ella Fitzgerald, an Addisleigh Park resident, afforded the opportunity for what was considered excellent seats ranging from $2.25 to $4.50. For the July 13, 1963 engagement, Rolls-Royce limousines accommodated press representatives to and from Manhattan. She performed with Dave Brubeck, and adding to the character of the concert experience was the widespread scent of “My Sin.” A July 18 “Jet” publication read, “in keeping with a new arrangement by the producers wherein each night, prior to the performance, the Forest Hills Stadium will be sprayed throughout with the perfume.” 

Ella Fitzgerald, November 1946, Photo by William Paul Gottlieb
Harry Belafonte singing in 1954, Courtesy of Library of Congress
Singer, composer, social activist, and actor Harry Belafonte, who was an East Elmhurst balladeer, appeared on August 25 to August 27, 1961, and had a return engagement on July 31 to August 2, 1964 with Miriam Makeba. On July 31, he exhibited perfect pitch and flawless tempo, and his repertoire included “Every Night When The Sun Goes Down,” “Glory Manger,” and “John Henry.” During the second half of the program, Miriam Makeba, with her graceful movements, performed tunes in English and South African. Under a harmonious expression, he performed “Jamaica Farewell” and she sang “The Click Song.” 

Miriam Makeba on March 7, 1969

Nina Simone in 1965
Nina Simone was warmly welcomed on August 3, 1963 and performed favorites such as “Little Liza Mae,” “Porgy,” and “May Man.” Following her was Ray Charles, who was greeted by a thunderous applause. Program numbers ranged from a hushed “The Thrill is Gone” to a swinging “Don’t Set Me Free.” He was accompanied by a 17-piece orchestra and occasionally by The Raelettes, his female vocal group. The 1963 Forest Hills Music Festival program called him “a living musical legend on ABC-Paramount Records.” 

Ray Charles & Nina Simone, August 3, 1963 concert ad
On August 27, 1966, Ray Charles set a box office record at the Forest Hills Music Festival and was joined by the 15-piece Ray Charles Orchestra and The Raelettes. Another noteworthy appearance was by Frederick Nelson III, a 6-year-old organist who performed a spirited “Wade in the Water” and “Watermelon Man.” 

Ray Charles in 1963 Forest Hills Music Festival program
“The world has known two authentic musical geniuses. One was Beethoven and the other is Ray Charles,” said Sammy Davis, Jr in a public statement around that time. Also, in a Life magazine seven-page feature, he was praised with the following statement: “Every singer in the business draws from Ray Charles, but no singer has it or dispenses it the way Ray Charles does.” He was nicknamed “The Genius of Soul” and considered one of the world’s most popular artists since his hit tune, “Georgia On My Mind.” Two decades later, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which stated, “Charles used his explosive musical talent to combine gospel and blues into the then non-existent genre of soul. To him, soul music was a way of life.” 

Trade ad for Ray Charles single 'Yesterday' in Billboard, November 4, 1967

Johnny Mathis, 1967 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council
Johnny Mathis’ August 4, 1962 concert featured hits including “Misty,” “Wild Is The Wind,” and “Come To Me.” His August 10, 1963 show marked his only New York appearance and his commitment to donate half of his earnings to Reverend Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Highlights were “Wonderful, Wonderful” and “Marla.” 

Johnny Mathis, October 2, 1960, MCA-Music Corporation of America
On August 21, 1965, Mathis performed a medley of his classics consisting of “Chances Are,” “Twelfth of Never,” “More,” and “When Sunny Gets Blue.” Several numbers were complemented by a chorus of eighteen talented children known as the “Young Americans” who also engaged the audience with a warm-up of songs and much laughter, and a focal point was the moving rendition of “Shenandoah.” A 30-piece orchestra was the ideal fit for Mathis and the Young Americans. Mathis also performed in 1961, on August 4, 1962, August 15, 1964, and on July 8, 1967. 

The Exciters, December 1964, Billboard
Also performing at the Stadium was pop music group The Exciters who sang their hit “Tell Him” on August 28, 1964. Carl Holmes & the Commanders took the stage on August 28, 1965, and one of their hits was “Mashed Potatoes.” 

Carl Holmes & The Commanders
The Temptations, August 1966, NY Amsterdam News
N.Y. Amsterdam News ran the Forest Hills Giveaway contest in 1966. It stated, “Your letter must be postmarked by August 15 if you expect to be in the judging for free tickets to see The Supremes, The Temptations, and Stevie Wonder the evening of August 20 at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. Don’t despair, however, if your letter doesn’t get in on time. You have until August 22 to enter the contest to win free tickets to see Ray Charles give a concert at Forest Hills on August 27.” For a 200 words or less entry, a fan had to write “Why I would like to see The Supremes in concert” or “Why I would like to see Ray Charles in concert.” A free ticket was offered to a total of 25 winners for each concert, thanks to Forest Hills Music Festival producer Leonard Ruskin. He said, “We feel that in this way many people who might not otherwise be able to attend the concerts will be able to.” 

In 1966, Stevie Wonder was only 15, blind, played the harmonica, piano, and drums, and sang with earthy vocals and blues sentiment. The Supremes, comprised of Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, and Florence Ballard, were recognized as a highly polished and sophisticated singing group. Although known for their rock ‘n’ roll style, their repertoire largely consisted of ballads. Originating from the south, The Temptations are a quintet that was boasted for graceful choreography and great voices. 

Sammy Davis, Jr ad, July 1966, NY Amsterdam News

Sammy Davis, Jr in 1966 on The Perry Como Show
The era offered unique ads, such as one from the summer of 1966 announcing the July 8th and 9th concerts, which read: “You don’t have to fly to San Juan; You don’t have to drive to Kiamesha Lake; ‘cause you can see Sammy Davis (Jr.) with Count Basie and His Orchestra and Jay & The Americans right here at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium.” Sammy Davis Jr, who also appeared on August 11, 1962, was a singer, actor, comedian, and dancer, and is noted for his impressions of other celebrities. On July 17 to July 19, 1965, Count Basie opened with Frank Sinatra. On July 25, 1964, Count Basie performed numbers such as “April in Paris,” “Swinging Shepherd Blues,” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” Basie is remembered as a jazz pianist, composer, bandleader, and organist, and was the recipient of 9 Grammys. He was the foremost musician of the Big Band “Swing” era.

Bandleader Count Basie on piano
On July 8, 1966, William B. Williams, “the voice of WNEW Radio,” introduced crooner Sammy Davis, Jr. as the “world’s greatest entertainer.” He rhythmically snapped his fingers and sang “This Will Be My Shining Hour,” which came true. During his second number, “Change Partners,” he carried a mic as he walked to the lawn distinguishing the stage and the audience. Then he shifted to a humorous monologue, Anthony Newley, Rodgers and Hart, and R&B tunes, and left the audience wanting more. He later starred in “Super Night at Forest Hills,” a 1977 televised musical comedy, where he is joined by Arthur Ashe in a play, Alan King and Buddy Hackett portraying old-time tennis pros reuniting, as well as Andy Williams who commemorated tennis through songs. 

The Four Tops, 1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council
The Four Tops & Marvin Gaye ad, 1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council
The Four Tops, a male vocal quartet from Detroit that performed on July 29, 1967, were memorable for their hand-clapping, foot-stomping, and thigh-slapping, as evident in their lyrics in “Shake Me. Wake Me” and “Reach Out and I’ll Be There.” Other tunes were “Baby I Need Your Loving,” “In The Still of The Night,” and “I Can’t Help Myself.” A great energy swept the stadium with one of the groups that helped popularize the sound of Motown of the 1960s. The Four Tops also appeared with Marvin Gaye and King Curtis and His Kingpins on August 24, 1968. 

Marvin Gaye, 1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council
Bee Gees & King Curtis Atco Records ad, 1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council
The Jimi Hendrix Experience, November 5, 1968
The Jimi Hendrix Experience opened for the Monkees on July 14 to July 16, 1967, which was unique since their style was distinctive between acid rock and a pop band, respectively. On July 16th, Hendrix threw down his guitar and exited from Monkeemania, and tour promoter Dick Clark was left speechless. During one of his performances, he envisioned concertgoers to sing along with “Foxy Lady,” but instead they screamed “Foxy Davy,” being obsessed with Davy Jones of the Monkees. Hendrix left the tour amicably, and it was not a total loss, since his hit “Purple Haze” climbed the U.S. singles chart. 

Jimi Hendrix at Forest Hills Stadium, 1967, Courtesy of Forest Hills Stadium
Nancy Wilson ad, 1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council
1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council
1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council
Pop singer Nancy Wilson and the 5th Dimension opened the 9th season of the Forest Hills Music Festival on June 22, 1968. The quintet was recognized for their repertoire ranging from soul to pop, where their blend of rich harmonies grants a five dimensional sound. The group also performed nearly 20 hits on August 16, 1969 including “California Sun,” “Up, Up and Away,” and “Hair.” A highlight of the evening was the finale arrangement of “Aquarius” / “Let The Sunshine In,” where the musicians engaged in groovy dancing and ventured off the stage and sang to the fans.

The 5th Dimension ad, 1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council
Shorty Long at the piano
 1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council
1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council
Matchbook cover for 1968 Forest Hills Music Festival featuring Diana Ross & The Supremes, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council
Diana Ross and the Supremes appeared with Stevie Wonder and Shorty Long on August 3, 1968. Diana Ross was the hostess and gave the stage to Shorty Long, performer of “Here Comes The Judge” and “Never Going To Give You Up,” two hits which were enthusiastically received. Stevie Wonder followed with a routine noted for his groovy pace, and began with “Precious Sweetheart,” followed by hits such as “Place In The Sun,” “Uptight,” and an instrumental rendition of “Alfie” on the harmonica. The stadium echoed from foot-stomping and thunderous clapping. “Big Stevie,” who was considered a young veteran of the stage, also self-accompanied numbers on electric piano and drums. Then came “pride of Motown” Diana Ross and the Supremes, who performed a medley consisting of “Stop in The Name of Love,” “Come See About Me,” and “Love Is Here.” That was followed by a humorous performance of “Queen of the House.” 

Diana Ross concert ticket, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

Richie Havens in 1974, Courtesy of William Morris Agency
From $3.50 to $6.00, fans could see Richie Havens on July 19, 1969. He consolidated soul, folk, and rhythm & blues. He was no match for rock singer Janis Joplin who placed a Southern Comfort bottle on the piano and told police to get off the stage or she will not sing, and then they backed off. Joplin would blast her songs, but Havens was known for his easygoing tempo.

Dionne Warwick from her August 29, 1969 television special
Dionne Warwick appeared with Sam & Dave, a soul and R&B duo on July 12, 1969. “Soul Man” and “Hold On, I’m Comin’” were among their most popular tunes. At that time, her most popular numbers were Burt Bacharach tunes such as “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.” She is considered among the 40 largest hit makers of the rock era based on Billboard’s Hot 100 Pop Singles Charts.

Sam & Dave in Billboard, October 26, 1968
 Concertgoers witnessed a surprise package on stage on July 23, 1977, and when it was torn open, Diana Ross emerged. Her ballads consisted of “Send in the Clowns” and “The Lady is a Tramp.” Then she said she would turn the stadium into a discotheque and hits included “Love Hangover.” The N.Y. Amsterdam News read, “She asked a young man in the audience who was wearing a ‘Diana is Dorothy in the Wiz’ sweatshirt to dance with her, and he, overwhelmed and willing, did just that.” “I love you, Diana” became the rule by fans throughout the evening. 

Donna Summer & Brooklyn Dreams July 28, 1979 ticket, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council
A fan could purchase a $20 ticket for a portal box seat for “A Summer Night’s Dream Show” on July 27 and July 28, 1979 featuring “Queen of Disco” Donna Summer and special guest Brooklyn Dreams. These sold-out concerts brought her hits into the spotlight including “I Feel Love,” “Last Dance,” “Hot Stuff,” “Love To Love You Baby,” and “Bad Girls.” That month she topped the Hot 100 singles chart, Billboard 200 albums chart, and the Soul singles chart. She is the recipient of five Grammy Awards. 

Donna Summer in the recording studio, September 1977, Casablanca Records

The whimsical 1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council