The current Forest Hills neighborhood, once part of Glenville Village, began as a resort complex developed by John D. Rockefeller in 1873. Although the resort lasted only a year, the estate served as the Rockefeller family's summer home until 1917. The estate was later developed as a residential subdivision, options of which now lie in the cities of Cleveland, Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland.

At the time of its incorporation in 1870, the Village of Glenville was a semi-rural area known as the "garden spot of Cuyahoga County" because of its numerous vegetable farms. The community's scenic qualities and lakeshore sites also attracted many of the region's wealthiest residents. Nationally, Glenville was known as a center of horse racing and, later, auto racing. The Village of Glenville was annexed to Cleveland in 1905.

Residential and commercial development in Forest Hills was most intense during the period from 1910 to 1930. During that time period, population in the neighborhood rose from 4,792 to its peak of 31, 512. Over the next forty years, the population of Forest Hills remained relatively stable. Between 1950 and 1970, the racial makeup of the neighborhood changed dramatically as the African-American population increased from 0.3% to 98.0% of the total population.

After 1970, the neighborhood's population began to decline dramatically, partially in response to the nationally-reported racial rioting which occurred in the adjacent Glenville neighborhood in 1968. As with Glenville, this population loss and declining incomes resulted in deterioration and business vacancies in neighborhood retail areas.

In the late 1980's, however, signs of retail and residential revitalization became evident with development of a 65,000 square-foot supermarket and 40-unit townhouse complex at Lakeview and Superior Avenues (recently re-named "Garret Square" in memory of inventor Garrett A. Morgan). Development of single-family homes intensified during the early 1990's.