The Real Deal New York

The roots of Trump’s empire in Hollis, Queens

Donald's father Fred C. Trump built the company on small family homes in the outer boroughs

August 17, 2015 08:32AM

From left: Fred C. Trump and Donald Trump

From left: Fred C. Trump and Donald Trump

Donald Trump wasn’t always a brash, self-regarding billionaire. He used to be worth mere millions, much of which he inherited from his father, developer Fred C. Trump.

The Donald is best known these days for leading the GOP primary field, and for the slate of marquee buildings bearing his name, the foundation on which it was all built can be found in Hollis, Queens, where Donald’s father, Fred C. Trump, began his development career.

Trump the elder started out in the 1920s, just after leaving high school. He built his first house in Woodhaven, Queens before moving onto growing, middle-class Hollis. Fred Trump was too young even to sign his own checks, so he opened a company, E. Trump & Son, with his mother Elizabeth, according to “The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire,” by Gwenda Blair, cited by the New York Times.

“Why not visit!” read one of his ads. E. Trump & Son promoted the property, listed at $9,950, as “Located in the very best section of Hollis only 5 minutes from the station, having every city convenience, including sewers, concrete street and sidewalks.”

During the Great Depression, Fred Trump went into retail, opening Trump Market, Queens’ first supermarket, according to the Times. Trump returned to development soon after, selling the store to King Kullen, who, according to their website, founded not only Queens’ but America’s first supermarket, on Jamaica Avenue in 1930. [NYT] Ariel Stulberg