Judge Hockert Triangle
The son of Swedish immigrants, Jenkin Rylander Hockert (1894-1990) was born in Chicago, Illinois. He spent his childhood in Hartford, Connecticut and entered Valparaiso University in Indiana in 1909. There he completed the B.S. in August 1913 at the age of eighteen. In his autobiography, A Lifetime of Law, Hockert wrote that after teaching for six months at a country school in Campbell County, South Dakota, "I had decided that my true ambition was to be a lawyer." He entered Columbia Law School in 1914 and received the L.L.B. in 1917. Hockert immediately joined the Armed Forces and trained as a cadet for the Signal Corps, Aviation Division. During World War I, he served as a biplane pilot in the U.S. Army Air Force in France and Italy.
Soon after he returned to New York in February 1919, Hockert settled in Brooklyn, where he worked as a title searcher and joined the First Assembly district Young Republican Club. Within a few months, he was appointed Captain, a position which was, in his words, "the first step in a political career." His legal career was launched when he joined a law firm in Brooklyn and later established his own office in Jamaica, Queens. An active member of the community, Hockert was a member of the Unitarian church, Masons, Elks, several veterans organizations, and the local Republican Club. Hockert married Nancy L. Myers in 1930, and they had two children, Joan and Lorance.
As the attorney for the Central Queens Alliance Civic Council, Hockert effected the reduction of assessments, improvement of parks and playgrounds, and removal of old wooden school buildings. In 1933 he was elected Queens County Clerk on the Fusion ticket, with fellow World War I veteran Fiorello H. LaGuardia. When Hockert’s term expired in 1937, he worked as Mayor LaGuardia’s campaign manager in Queens. The mayor won reelection and appointed Hockert as a City Magistrate. He served on courts in districts throughout the city on cases concerning such issues as traffic, vice, price fixing, and marathon dance contests. During World War II, Hockert was known as the "Bicycle Judge," because he commuted by bicycle from his home to his many judicial assignments for the Magistrates Court.
After leaving office in 1947, Hockert returned to private practice. He was elected to the Municipal Court in 1950 and to the City Court three years later. When the Municipal and City Courts were reorganized in 1962, Judge Hockert was appointed an Acting Supreme Court Judge. He retired at the age of seventy in 1964 and later moved to Boca Raton, Florida, where he died on September 7, 1990 three days before his 96th birthday. An admired patriot and respected community leader, Judge Hockert will long be remembered for his love of country and of the residents of Queens.
In 1991 this triangle at 179th Street, Union Turnpike, and Surrey Place was named in Hockert’s memory by a Local Law, sponsored by Council Members Sheldon S. Leffler and June M. Eisland. Judge Hockert Triangle is on city-owned land, assigned to Transportation and planted and maintained by Parks under the Greenstreets program. Greenstreets was inaugurated in 1986 and reintroduced in 1994 to convert paved street properties, like triangles and malls, into green lawns. Funded through Parks & Recreation’s capital budget, Greenstreets plants trees and shrubs in the city’s barren street spaces. The assistance of volunteers keeps these areas clean and their plants healthy.