Before they revolutionized punk rock, the Ramones were four teenagers hanging out on a ramp dreaming of future stardom.
Forest Hills, a neighborhood in Queens mostly made up of Jewish emigres from Eastern Europe, is far from where one would expect rock and roll history to have been made. But this very neighborhood is where the Ramones, the legendary innovators of punk rock, called their stomping grounds before they changed the landscape of music forever.
Fueled by teen angst and sheer boredom, the future members of the Ramones—Jeffrey Hyman, Douglas Colvin, Thomas Erdelyi, and John Cummings—would meet at a ramp that leads to the top of a parking garage within the Thorneycroft Apartments (now called Fanwood Estates) and hang out. When wholesome acts such as sniffing glue and drinking failed to offer them an escape from their lives, rock stardom became more enticing.
Donning matching leather jackets and adopting the surname Ramone (supposedly after the alias Beatle Paul McCartney used while checking into hotels), the four disaffected youth reinvented themselves. Their blend of pop melodies and three-chord guitar shredding brought rock and roll back to the basics and influenced bands for years to come.
While they were no doubt seen as long-haired troublemakers while growing up in the neighborhood, the community now views the Ramones as proud sons of Forest Hills. The ramp they once gathered at—which has been dubbed the birthplace of punk—now features a mural of the band. Painted by artist Ori Carino, it’s based off a photograph by Bob Gruen depicting the four original band members sitting atop the ramp.
Know Before You Go
You can find "the Ramp" and the mural just north of 99th Street, between 66th Road and 66th Avenue.