About Jerry Wolman
Jerry Wolman lived the epitome of the Horatio Alger “rags to riches,” triumphant American underdog story; though Wolman’s remarkable tale had a powerfully dramatic twist.
He was born in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania in 1927, the son of a grocer. Wolman had a tremendous passion for football, and as a child he would hitchhike 100 miles without a ticket and sneak in to see his beloved Philadelphia Eagles play.
Working tirelessly for the family business as a youngster, Wolman had to drop out of high school when his father had a stroke, never graduating. After serving in the Merchant Marines as a teenager, he returned home and met his wife-to-be, Anne. Penniless, but determined, the two decided to pick up a hitchhiker and go wherever their passenger was heading to start their new life: it turned out to be Washington, D.C.
During the early 1950s, Wolman worked in a paint store, but became transfixed by a construction site across the street. He quit his job and bought a piece of land. Learning as he went along, Jerry built a small apartment unit and sold it. After that, he kept on building. Over the 1950s and early 1960s, Jerry Wolman Construction Company built approximately 30,000 apartment units and 6,000,000 square feet of office space.
Wolman was one of the most successful young self-made men in America. He purchased the famed National Theatre and The Raleigh Hotel in our nation’s capital. In no time, he built 7 high-rise towers in a one mile radius in the District of Columbia.
In 1963, at the age of 36, he had amassed $36,000,000 and was heralded as “The Boy Wonder” of real estate. That year, he achieved his boyhood dream and purchased the Philadelphia Eagles. Wolman grew to national fame as an exuberant young football owner with a dynamic personality and a giant heart. His generous deeds for friends and strangers alike became legendary.
In 1964, he began plans for the construction of the tallest residential/commercial building in the world: the John Hancock Center in Chicago. In 1966, he founded the Philadelphia Flyers and built the storied Spectrum arena in order to secure the NHL franchise for the city of Philadelphia. He then purchased the Yellow Cab Company, the second largest in the nation.
In August of 1966, construction problems with the John Hancock Center sent his estimated $100 million financial empire into a tailspin.
Wolman’s accomplishments were only surpassed by the manner in which he lived his life. His life touched thousands and his incredible never-been-told life story is heartfelt, moving and compelling.