WHO IS THAT GUY? Chelsea

I’ve passed by this building hundreds of times, as millions have, and plenty of times caught sight of the name “John Q Aymar” on the 8th Avenue side. I got around to looking him up, and it continues to be a puzzlement. The Aymars were a family of merchant princes in gaslight New York from the 1820s to the Civil War era, and more than one member was called John Q. Aymar. One of the JQAs is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art owns a portrait of one of the JQA families painted in 1838.

Historian Joseph Ditta: According to an item in the New York Times of 8 August 1937, the building was named for John Q. Aymar, great-grandfather of Bradish G. and Aymar Johnson, trustees of the Aymar Johnson estate, who developed the property that John Q. had purchased back in 1839.

An additional question would be what the Q stands for. Maybe it stood for the same thing the Q in talk show host Robert Q. Lewis stood for: nothing. He just liked the Q.

This just in: the Q was likely Quereau.

4/17/13


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6 Responses to WHO IS THAT GUY? Chelsea

  1. Kevin P. says:

    Maybe this item from the New York Times archive helps a little:

    http://i.imgur.com/1ojJffr.png

    Mrs. Bradish Johnson’s grandfather was the John Q. Aymar who died at East Islip on August 6, 1911.

  2. Joseph Ditta says:

    According to an item in the New York Times of 8 August 1937, the building was named for John Q. Aymar, great-grandfather of Bradish G. and Aymar Johnson, trustees of the Aymar Johnson estate, who developed the property that John Q. had purchased back in 1839.

  3. Dan says:

    While holding court at my private table at the Dunkin’ Donuts across the street, I’ve often admired this building for its austere, Depression-era boring-ness.

    But if the kids were honoring great-great grandpa — and presumably trying to make some extra bucks off his long-ago land purchase — why do so with a measly two stories?

  4. Danny S. says:

    I see that you still have a section of text rendered in tiny letters. Try this:

    Load the HTML file into a text editor like Notepad and do a search-and-replace for the string “font-size: 13px; line-height: 19px;” (without the quotes). Replace it with nothing (a null string, empty field) and resave. There should be no need to find the matching closing tag or do anything else.

    • Kevin Walsh says:

      I know how to fix it but I haven’t been going into all my former pages with it; life’s too short.

  5. Will Rhyins says:

    Re:
    <>

    Think!1937 was the middle–worst–of the Depression. Worse even than 1929-33. New construction in NYC was at a standstill. Few had any money–even developers. I know, because my grandfather went bankrupt in 1938. Dirkes Construction flourished during most of the Depression “renovating” smaller 19th century buildings with modern facades. But by ’38 most of that biz dried up. So my guess, the owners of this gem of a building, developed the site as best they could, given the dire state of the economy. In ’37, there were very few buildings taller than 5 stories–most were 3 story, pre-1880 structures. So a two story new/modern construction–on that corner–was pretty swank in 1937. Eighth Ave & 23rd was also a pretty rough neighborhood then, largely a railroad, shipping & warehouse district. Transients, laborers. So this building must have really stood out! I think Woolworth’s might have been an original tenant, as most of their stores had 50yr leases. They had the entire ground floor, until the late 80’s. It’s a wonderful building, but we need to see it in context.

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