6. West Side Tennis Club (1915-1977)

Match in progress at West Side Tennis Club
Althea Gibson, the first Black player to win a Grand Slam tournament, made history by winning at the West Side Tennis Club.

For six decades, the U.S. Open took place at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, Queens from 1915 to 1920 and from 1924 to 1977. There was skepticism at the time about the viability of hosting such a major tournament in Forest Hills; A.L. Hoskins, Vice President of the United States National Lawn Tennis Association, told The New York Times, “The West Side Tennis Club on Long Island is merely a landscape and not a suitable place to hold a national tourney.” Shortly after, delegates at the annual United States National Lawn Tennis Association (USNLTA) meeting narrowly voted to relocate the tennis championships to The West Side Tennis Club, which featured a Tudor-style clubhouse and dozens of tennis courts. The club was founded on the Upper West Side in 1892, though the 14,000-seat Forest Hills Stadium was built in 1923 specifically to host the tournament.

The venue later hosted The BeatlesFrank Sinatra, and Bob Dylan, though in 1978, the USTA moved the U.S. Open to USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The last year of the tournament was quite a sight. At the 1977 U.S. Open, a spectator was shot in the leg during a match, which was especially concerning considering bomb threats, protests, and riots in the city. The 1977 tournament featured Renée Richards, a transgender tennis player who was allowed to compete as a woman. The ‘77 Open also marked the debut of the “spaghetti racket,” which made the balls move in unpredictable directions (though it was banned shortly after). After the U.S. Open departed, Forest Hills Stadium fell into disrepair, and LPC officials refused to grant landmark status to the stadium due to its extensive deterioration. However, the stadium underwent a major overhaul in 2013 and has remained a popular concert destination ever since.