Fred Christ Trump

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Before he turned 21, Fred Trump and his mother, Elizabeth, started the construction company E. Trump & Sons, so named because only she was old enough to sign the checks. The business took off. At age 28, he won the mortgage service business of a troubled German bank, and by 1938 was bragging in the papers about the “throngs visiting” his developments in Brooklyn. (New York Times, August 13, 2016)
As he grew older, Fred Trump began building single-family houses in the late 1920's -- most of them in Queens -- which were sold for $3,990 each. The concept of supermarkets was new back then, too, and when Mr. Trump built Trump Market in Woodhaven in the middle of the Depression and advertised, "Serve Yourself and Save!" it was an instant hit. About a year later, Mr. Trump sold the store for a profit to the King Kullen chain. In World War II, Mr. Trump built barracks and garden apartments for the Navy in Chester, Pa., Newport News, and Norfolk, Va. When the fighting was over and apartments for returning servicemen and their families were in short supply, he branched out into middle-income housing; he built Shore Haven in Bensonhurst in 1949 and Beach Haven near Coney Island the next year for a total of 2,700 apartments. In 1963, he put up the 3,800-apartment Trump Village in Coney Island -- five years after his contemporary, Mr. LeFrak, began Lefrak City in Queens. (New York Times, June 26, 1999)
Donald Trump remembers exactly when he realized his father was beginning to fade. About six years ago, they were driving down Fifth Avenue when he gave his father big news: he had just bought the land beneath the Empire State Building. "That's a tall building, isn't it?" Fred C. Trump replied. "How many apartments are in that building?" At first, Donald thought he was kidding. But his father, 87, was developing Alzheimer's. (New York Times, January 2, 2000)
Some tenants loved Mr. Trump for his solid, well-priced apartments; others loathed him for his suspected exclusion of blacks from his properties. (Woody Guthrie, a tenant of Mr. Trump's Beach Haven apartments, wrote in 1950, “I suppose/ Old Man Trump knows/ Just how much/ Racial Hate/ he stirred up/ In the bloodpot of human hearts.”) In the 1970s, Donald Trump, who had just taken over the business, would fiercely contest a housing discrimination lawsuit brought by the Justice Department, before ultimately agreeing to change renting practices. And years before Mr. Trump became known for spreading campaign money around, regardless of party affiliation, he watched his father court Abraham D. Beame, who would become mayor, and the other power brokers of Brooklyn's Madison Democratic Club. “In order to build you needed to get zoning, and in order to get zoning you had to know the politicians,” Mr. Trump said. “And my father got to know the politicians.” (New York Times, August 13, 2016)