The Who, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Costello, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Billie Jean King and Jimmy Connors have all held court at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium at 69th Avenue and Burns Street, Queens. The U.S Open was held here for many decades before it decamped to Louis Armstrong Stadium in 1978 and later to Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows/Corona Park in 1997.
The West Side Tennis Club was organized in 1892 and moved here in 1913 (the same year Ebbets Field in Brooklyn opened), with the U.S. Open moving in in 1923, when the stadium was constructed.
The Har-Tru surface replaced grass in 1975, the same year that night play was instituted. Among the firsts instituted at Forest Hills: seedings in 1927; first black player in a Grand Slam event in 1950 (Althea Gibson); tiebreakers in 1970; equal prize money for men and women in 1973.
Here, Jimmy Connors plays Australian Ken Rosewall in the US Open Finals at Forest Hills in 1974 (Connors won, capturing a third of four Grand Slam tournaments that year, and he was 3 for 3 in the ones he played in). Connors’ reaching the 1991 US Open semifinals at age 39 was rightfully applauded, but here Rosewall reached the finals at the same age.
Looking at Forest Hills Stadium today it’s hard to fathom it once being host to a Grand Slam pro tennis event, as well as rock and pop concerts. It seems more or less unchanged and unrefurbished since 1977, when the last Open was played here, and the late 1990s, when the last major concert took place here (Echo and the Bunnymen).
According to the Wall Street Journal, the West Side Tennis Club is considering selling the stadium to a developer, who could demolish it and build luxury housing on the site. Forest Hills’ Michael Perlman, who has been at the forefront of many other preservation battles, urges a campaign to preserve the stadium and revitalize it as a concert venue and community center.
Based on the above significance and your own sentiments, please write a letter supporting landmark status to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. The Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, Clubhouse, interiors, and grounds should be calendared for a public hearing ASAP. If restored and adaptively reused for smaller concerts and smaller tennis matches, it would enhance the appeal of the neighborhood, and preserve a historic icon. Jet Blue can be a sponsor. Breathable space is prime, and we do not need typical condos in a neighborhood accustomed to overdevelopment. City Landmarking will preserve the historic Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, Clubhouse, grounds, & interiors for future generations to cherish, increase the chances of funding for repairs, and ultimately enhance our quality of life. Rego-Forest Preservation Council
- LPC Chair Robert Tierney: firstname.lastname@example.org
- LPC Dir of Research Mary Beth Betts: email@example.com
- LPC General mailbox: firstname.lastname@example.org
- LPC Exec. Dir. Kate Daly: email@example.com
- Rego-Forest Preservation Council Chair Michael Perlman: firstname.lastname@example.org
photographed January 2010 by Gerry Guadagno; page completed September 7, 2010