Dave the Traveling Music Man here. This post is near and dear to my heart as it is about the place I grew up and went to school: Forest Hills, Queens, New York. It is also about the legendary rock band, the Ramones – the members were a few years older than me, but I knew them all on a first name basis. I even played in bands that opened for them at venues like CBGBs and Irving Plaza. But, enough about me – let’s talk travel and music.
I Always Check Out the Local Music When I Travel
One of the things that I love to do as a musician when I am traveling somewhere is to learn about the music scene nearby. The clubs, museums or music stores that are in the vicinity are a must for me to check out. I’ll be writing plenty more about that in posts to come.
For those who know about Rock and Roll history, during the 70’s, there was a band that was considered the pioneer of punk rock music. That band was called the Ramones. If you lived during that iconic period, you know that New York City was the mega heaven for the punk scene. The Ramones name was synonymous with punk rock music.
All of the original members of the Ramones were from Forest Hills, Queens and they all went to Forest Hills High School, now dubbed the original Rock n’ Roll High School. Forest Hills was their neighborhood.
Although the Ramones never achieved Top 40 success, they did have a major influence on many bands after them. For example, U2’s Bono has been noted to say that it was the lead singer of the Ramones, Joey Ramone, that got him into singing in a band.
Over the years after the band broke up, there have been many awards and ceremonies to honor their tenure as a band. For example, in 2002, the Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Ramones classic shout-out, Hey, Ho, Let’s Go! is heard during Major League Baseball games. Their music has even been on commercials! And, then there’s the episode of the Simpsons called Rosebud:
A Visit to Forest Hills, Queens
Come to Forest Hills Queens during your stay in New York and see a piece of Rock and Roll history. You’ll be chanting Gabba Gabba Hey! all over the neighborhood.
From Manhattan, the Long Island Railroad and the E, F and R trains take you directly to Forest Hills in about 30 minutes. Once you get there, there are a few Ramones sightings within walking distance or a short bus (or Uber ride) away!
Forest Hills High School and Ramones Way
Forest Hills High School, the original Rock and Roll High School, is located at 110th Street and Sixty-sixth Road. It was dedicated in 1937 and is generally known for its academic excellence. All of the Ramones band members, Joey, Johnny,Tommy and DeeDee went to school here, as did other notable personalities, such as Burt Bacharach, Art Buchwald, Jerry Springer, Leslie West, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, to name a few.
Recently, the City Council commemorated the band’s connection with Forest Hills by erected a street sign in front of Forest Hills High School naming the street “Ramones Way!”
The Thorneycroft Ramp
Not far from the high school, at 99th Street and Queens Boulevard, you can see where the Ramones hung out – Thorneycroft Ramp. Recently, a mural of the Ramones seated on top of the wooden fence on the ramp at the Thorneycroft apartments, was painted by Ori Carino and placed there.
Ramones Mural at the Forest Hills Long Island Railroad Station
Nearby, at Continental Avenue, there is yet another tribute to this legendary punk band: a mural at the underpass of the Long Island Railroad station.
From Forest Hills, you can take a train or subway back to Manhattan, but, I have another suggestion. Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, often referred to as Flushing Meadows Park, or simply Flushing Meadows, is close by. Flushing Meadows Park is the largest park in Queens with lovely grounds and interesting museums (the exhibit, Hey! Ho! Let’s Go Ramones and the Birth of Punk, opened at the Queens Museum, but has since moved on to other venues).
Flushing Meadows Park was the location of both the 1939 and 1964 Worlds Fairs and the original Unisphere is still there!
So, thank you and Hey Ho Let’s Go . . . to Forest Hills, Queens!