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.