"Whenever I feel like exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes." ~ Robert M. Hutchins
I feel similarly about moving out of the city. I have entertained the notion as often as the couch potato thinks of all the benefits of exercise but somehow hopes to achieve results without exercise. I hope to have the benefits of a home in the country or suburbs (a big unattached home, yard, parking, basement, lots of storage, washer, dryer...), but without giving up any of the things the city has to offer.
My quest for utopia has known no bounds. Fantasy haunts my travels - I have entertained living in every beautiful travel destination - the hilltop villages of France and Italy, the coast of Maine, the mountain towns of Colorado, the towns of New Mexico and Arizona, the isles of the Caribbean, Key West, Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Vermont, the Connecticut countryside, Eugene, Oregon, and nearly everywhere in California.
Closer to home, I have toyed with areas like Manhattan Beach, the hills of Staten Island, and other enclaves in the outer boroughs of New York City. Of course many of these areas have had a much stronger allure than others.
I have discovered a new fantasy home - Forest Hills Gardens. This Queens neighborhood, founded in 1909, consists of about 800 homes, townhouses, and apartment buildings, mostly in Tudor, Brick Tudor or Georgian style. I recently made my first voyage there. See my photo gallery here.
Forest Hills Gardens is one of America's oldest planned communities and the leading example of the Garden City movement, an urban planning concept founded in 1898 in the UK by Sir Ebenezer Howard, popular at the time in England and Germany. Garden cities were intended to be planned, self-contained communities surrounded by greenbelts, containing carefully balanced areas of residences, industry, and agriculture. How could I have missed this actual experiment in utopian urban design, sitting right in my own backyard?
The neighborhood's parklike setting was commissioned by the Russell Sage Foundation and designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., son of noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park.
The community's central square abuts the Forest Hills railroad station. A theme of towers, half-timbered Tudors, brickwork, red-tile roofs, large chimneys and off-white stucco walls is found throughout the 142-acre neighborhood. Exterior changes must be approved by a property owners' association.
I was very impressed with this extraordinary place. No worry that it is a late discovery - it is also one of the most exclusive and expensive areas in New York City.
I have been very fortunate to live in Greenwich Village for most of my adult life. This is also an extraordinary neighborhood with many historic buildings and a bucolic charm. And I have learned the remedy for the obsessed, unrelenting fantasy mover. Whenever I feel like moving, I lie down until the feeling passes :)