Fortis Green was an opening made by an ancient lane which probably connected the manor of Finchley in East End Road with what was the north road out of London, predating the High Road. How it got its name is not clear.
'Fortis' suggests a place before something, but the 'something' is obscure. It appears in 1558 when it was considered part of Finchley Common. The green may simply have been a gap in woods and ran as far as where Muswell Hill Odeon is today.
Even into the 20th century Coldfall Woods came as far south as the present back fences of the houses on the north side of the road.
On a map of 1754, Cherry Tree Woods (then Dirt House Woods) to the south had been cleared and the land enclosed with at least two large houses. More houses were built along the road from the beginning of the 19th century.
By the middle part of the 19th century there were about 60 houses, mostly belonging to labourers, which had been erected on the green between the woods and the road.
The National Freehold Land society developed what had been Haswell Park into southern, eastern, and western Roads after 1852, with 180 plots, but development was slow. However, by 1913 the whole of the area south of the road had been developed as we see it today.
In the interwar period, the northern sections were developed at the expense of Coldfall woods, but even by 1936 much of the wood was still standing, with only the remaining northern sections being kept as a recreational area.
From about 1843 until 1888 there was a brewery owned by the Green family, which was latterly taken over by Inn Coop, finally closing in 1902. The police station was opened the same year.
The naturalist William B Tegetmeier lived in the area. Possibly the most important residents were Ray and Dave Davies (of the 1960s band, The Kinks), who were brought up at 6 Denmark Terrace, and had their first performance at the Clissold Arms.