When we started Forest Hills Connection four years ago, we wrote:
What is Forest Hills? In the past, even longtime residents have struggled to answer the question and to form a neighborhood identity. So in 2012, a group of residents decided we needed an online gathering place, one that would tell our stories.
Forest Hills Connection is an e-magazine about news and life in our neighborhood, which for the purposes of this publication includes Wakefield, North Cleveland Park and the more-famous-but-not-officially-named Van Ness. We want to bring the activities, interests and talents within our community to light. We also hope to create a deeper sense of community.
We continue to work toward these goals, but we’ve heard that the “Forest Hills” part of our name makes some neighbors feel excluded. Perhaps it is time for a change.
I admit that I have a different idea than most about what and where Forest Hills is, and this is due to my interactions with neighbors going back to 1989.
When I moved to this neighborhood that year, Carl Kessler was president of the Forest Hills Citizens Association. He lived on Alton just to the east of 36th Street. And there were many active members in the Forest Hills Citizens Association from west of Connecticut Avenue. So to me, the newbie, this area was part of Forest Hills.
According to the chapter about the Forest Hills Citizens Association in Images of America: Forest Hills, the FHCA was founded in 1929 with the boundaries set as Davenport to the north, Connecticut Avenue to the west, the Peirce Mill area to the south and Rock Creek Park to the east.
In 1932, the boundaries moved west to 38th Street and north to Ellicott, and Albemarle became the southern boundary. A map printed in 1940 in the Washington Post saw a major boundary shift again, resulting in a major expansion. The boundaries were then Wisconsin Avenue, Rock Creek Park and Ellicott Street and Porter Street.
Today’s online maps shrink the boundary of Forest Hills down to little more than FHCA’s 1929 boundaries. But we take the more expansive view. We are a project of the Forest Hills Neighborhood Alliance, the non-profit arm of the FHCA. And so the geographic area that is the main focus of the Forest Hills Connection covers Reno Road to Rock Creek Park, and Nebraska Avenue to Tilden Street.
We also realize that we do not live in a vacuum, separated from our neighbors. What has been most striking and gratifying to us over the past four years are the many opportunities and benefits of connecting with surrounding neighbors in Cleveland Park, Tenleytown, Chevy Chase and Crestwood across the park. Surveys we have done on the Broad Branch Road rehabilitation and the Van Ness retail have included responses from these neighborhoods. We are connected by common issues, common outlooks and common goals.
To that end, we wonder: Is our name too narrow and too exclusionary? Do you think it extends to our coverage? Or do you see the Forest Hills name as an anchor keeping our coverage close to the neighborhood? Our rule of thumb is that there must be some tie to the area, whether it be the subject or the writer.
We would like to know what you, our readers and contributors, think. And if you have ideas for a new name, include them in your comments below.