For years, I didn’t know “jack” about Jack J. Jackman, except that there is a building with this unusual name on Jerome Avenue. So I did a little archival research…and this is what I found.
Jacob Jackman was born in 1892 in New York and raised on the Lower East Side. According to his obituary in the New York Times, as a young man, he was active in the newly invented sport of basketball and a vaudeville actor who performed at the Hippodrome Theater in Midtown.
I’m not sure if Jackman was born with his alliterative name. My guess is that his parents were immigrants from Eastern Europe and that they called him something like Yankel Yosef in Yiddish or Jacob Joseph, in English. Perhaps Jack and his brother James J. Jackman changed their names to advance in show business.
A taxi driver who owned his own cab, Jackman was active in union politics and founded the League of Mutual Taxi Owners in 1933. Competition for cab licenses was fierce during the Depression. In the course of the city’s attempt to regulate cabs, mayoral candidate Fiorello Laguardia appealed for the support of cab drivers. When elected, the union led by Jackman convinced the mayor to limit the number of cabs licensed in New York. (Sound familiar?)
After Jackman’s death from a heart attack in 1954, the Jackman building, which probably was an office for cab drivers, must have been renamed in his honor. It has been the site of the Mount Oliver Temple Church since the nineties.