A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from June 06, 2008
Suicide Hill

"Suicide Hill” is any hill the someone goes down (sledding, skating, etc.) that could possibly end in disaster, such as getting run over by a car in the street. New York City has several “Suicide Hills” in several boroughs.

At Manhattan Fort Tryon Park, there’s a “suicide hill” where someone sledded into the street and died.

At Manhattan’s Riverside Dive and 91st Street, there’s another “suicide hill.”

At Manhattan’s Central Park on West Park Drive between 104th Street and 110th Street, there’s a “suicide hill” where bicyclists became tired, and gangs of kids would swarm out of bushes and steal the bikes.

Brooklyn’s Prospect Park has a “suicide hill.”

Queens’ Forest Park has a “suicide hill.”


24 July 1973, New York (NY) Times, “Central park Heavy With Manpower As Police Strive to Cope With Crimes” by Frank J. Prial, pg. 39 photo caption:
Informally garbed police keeping an eye on “suicide hill,” a stretch of West Park Drive from just south of 110th Street to 104th Street. Because the hill is steep, the top has been the scene of many bicycle thefts, as youths pounce from bushes on tired cyclists.

24 July 1974, New York (NY) Times, “About New York: The Bicycle Thieves” by John Corry, pg. 82:
The other bike thieves, the more dreaded ones, are the roving gangs of kids. In Central Park, they work for the most part in the hills north of 99th Street, and there is one stretch of West Park Drive from 104th Street to just south of 110th Street that is called “suicide hill.” Bicycle riders get pounced on there by kids hiding in the bushes.

12 September 1976, New York (NY) Times, pg. 221:
Currently for Manhattan skateboarders, favorite gathering places are: the big hill on Riverside Drive at 91st Street, dubbed “Suicide Hill” because of its treacherous curve and heavy traffic ("You have to be a nut case to go there,” says Paragon’s Howard Benjamin);...

20 November 1988, New York (NY) Times, “12 Personal Favorites” compiled by James Barron, pg. SMA12:
I live on Riverside Drive and have the extreme privilege of looking out of the Hudson, and it’s like the country. In the winter we have an extraordinary view of Suicide Hill, where the kids sled.

New York (NY) Daily News
SLEDDING DOWN WHILE LOOKING BACK
BY DENIS HAMILL
Tuesday, January 9th 2001, 2:15AM
(...)
The three brothers stood on top of the hill, generals supervising the troops, sucking on Christmas candy, and soon talk turned to their own long-gone sleigh-riding days on the legendary slopes of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

“This is like the Sugar Bowl,” Liam’s father said, “fun, but safe.”

“Not like Monument Hill,” Patrick’s father said. “I remember going down that sucker a few times so fast the only way to stop was to crash into somebody.”

“Suicide Hill was even worse,” Molly’s father remembered. “Guys who went down Suicide grew up to be ironworkers, connecting skyscraper steel.”

“We’d go to Prospect Park in the morning, and we’d sleigh-ride all day long,” Liam’s father said. “Eight, 10 hours.”

Washington Heights & Inwood Online
Fort Tryon Park
(...)
In the winter, on the weekends, when my father was home, Fort Tryon Park took on a different character. We would take my American Flyer to “suicide hill,” so named because a boy had purportedly sledded down it, through the park exit and on to the street where he was killed by a motorist.
(...)
Posted by: Peter Freitag | September 14, 2003 8:13 AM

New York (NY) Sun (January 30, 2004)
QUEENS
For sledders, Suicide Hill makes Forrest Park great — albeit dangerous.There are other excellent,smaller hills in the 538-acre park bordering Forrest Hills, but this hill’s velocity, length,bottom run,and fear factor combine for the optimum sledding rush.

“There are rocks you crash into, it’s crowded, and it’s the steepest hill,” said 12-year-old Daniel McQuail. “It’s dangerous, that’s what makes it fun.”

Located on the 110-acre golf course, the hill, which, according to the Parks Department, is off-limits and unsafe, draws a crowd of sledders undeterred by icy conditions. Stealthily crafted holes in the protective fence are a yearly tradition.

For safer sledding, the Parks Department recommends other slopes, such as the ones near Mary Whalen playground on 79th Street and Park Lane South, which drew hundreds of people this week.

Nearby Juniper Park is another popular sledding spot, but the serious sledders say it doesn’t compare to Forrest Park.

“This is about the best in Queens,” said Gennaro Cruz, 11, before he took his new “Green Giant” sled for a fearful first run down Suicide Hill.
(...)
BRACING A child braves Suicide Hill at Forest Park Golf Course in Queens. KONRAD FIEDLER

A VC
Sledding on Suicide Hill
Josh had a birthday party today with eleven other fourth grade boys.  When it snowed 2 feet over the past 24 hours, we decided to bag our original birthday party plans and go sledding instead.
Our favorite sledding hill in NYC is Suicide Hill in Riverside Park at 91st street.  It’s a steep pitch that ends in hay bales at the bottom to stop people from hitting a fence.
(...)
February 12, 2006 in Politics

Brooklyn Heights Blog
Paping Soap Box Derby’s John Meijas
The cars have wacky names like “Birch Beetle” and “Flying Armoire” but this year’s fourth annual Paping Soap Box Derby (held on July 15) was serious business — serious fun that is!  We have to say it’s the most natural use of the nabe’s notorious “Suicide Hill”.

BHB got a chance to have a little email Q&A with organizer/East Village art teacher John Meijas.

How did the Brooklyn Heights version of Soap Box Derby come about?
Paping is the nickname of my father and is also the name of a comic/zine that I publish. I had learned about soapbox racing from my father who would build and race when he was a kid in Spanish Harlem. I wanted to re-create it so I looked around New York for a worthy hill for about a year. The Brooklyn Heights location turned out to be the winner because a) not too much traffic passes through it. b) most of the participants are from Brooklyn. c) It’s not called suicide hill for nothing.
(...)
Posted: August 11th, 2006 under Fun.

Time Out New York Kids (Nov 1-Dec 31, 2006)
Queens
Thrill-seekers have been known to sneak up Forest Park’s “Suicide Hill” despite the Parks Department’s efforts to stop them. For a less dangerous but equally fun ride, head to the park’s Mary Whalen Playground (Park Lane South at 79th St). Nearby, Continental Hardware (10201 Metropolitan Ave at 71st Ave, 718-268-9077) sells American Flyers and sledding disks. Travel: J to 75th St or 85th St–Forest Pkwy.

My Brooklyn
Ceas, do you know that I have films of my Dad in Prospect Park sledding down “Suicide Hill” as they called it ,on one of our Flexible Flyers - waving and smiling as he went by the camera - its priceless.
Yeah, I’m ready to go - You steerin’? I’ll be behind ya......
Hold on, here we go wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!! crash!! 
by Claudia
Jan 1, 2008 1:59 PM

Humor
From:  Lucille Ball. (71-92-144-124.static.mdfd.or.charter.com)
Subject:  Re: You know you are from Brooklyn if.... 
Date:  April 2, 2008 at 12:24 am PST

In Reply to: You know you are from Brooklyn if.... posted by hahaha on February 19, 2003 at 9:17 am:
You know what skellys are;
You know where the Sanders movie theater is/was;
You know what a pushel cart is that’s covered with bottle caps;
You sledded on Suicide Hill in Prospect Park.

Brooklyn Heights Blog
Wacky Kids Skate Watchtower Hill
Comment from lifer
Time: April 10, 2008, 1:12 pm
We used to skate down this hill when we were actually kids in the late 70’s (these guys look like 20-somethings). The technique of glue gunning plastic to work gloves hadnt been invented yet. We would catamaran down the hill, my butt on my deck, with my legs on the other guys, while he faced me and had his feet on my deck, we would steer by leaning back and forth, and there was no slowing down by skidding. lots of fun. The Hill as long as i have been alive has been called “Suicide Hill” by the locals, from what I understand its because cars in the olden days would drive up it, loose their tracktion, and fall backwards down the hill to their demise. At least thats the story we heard from Cobble Hill.. any Heights versions out there of why its called Suicide Hill?
(...)
Comment from bornhere
Time: April 10, 2008, 4:20 pm
I had actually forgotten that, not too long ago, you could drive up that Hill and make a left on Middagh Street. I also wonder why that pattern was ended — it was really convenient. Anyway — I don’t recall the hill ever being called anything but “the hill at the end of Columbia Heights.” “Suicide Hill” is just so dramatic sounding, in that 1950s, teen-angst sort of way.
(...)
Comment from nabeguy
Time: April 10, 2008, 4:44 pm
When the overpass on Middagh Street started to collapse into the BQE below, they closed off the entire end of Middagh Street, which was two way between CH and Hicks up until then.
I grew up calling it Squibb Hill (as opposed to Snake Hill at the end of Willow Street down to Hicks, where I boarded as a kid on hand-made decks comprised of plywood and 2 halves of the old rollers skates nailed to the bottom, no helmets, no gloves, no sterring and definitely no sense). We heard the Suicide Hill reference in passing, but we assumed it meant that it’d be as good as committing suicide if you tried to go down it on a bike.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBuildings/Housing/Parks • (0) Comments • Friday, June 06, 2008 • Permalink