Frederick Christ “Fred” Trump was born in Woodhaven in 1905 to German immigrants Friedrich Drumpf and Elizabeth Christ, who married in 1902. Drumpf had become a naturalized citizen in 1892 and Americanized his name to Trump.
He had a background in restaurants and hotels, but his son Fred decided to go into developing and building affordable housing during the Depression. He operated out of his home at 175-24 Devonshire Road in Jamaica Estates, building his first homes at 170th Street off Hillside Avenue in 1930.
Trump gave a higher-value house for a lower price. He paid his workers well above average but strenuously resisted unionization because restrictions on output and other regulations would have reduced operational efficiency. He learned a lesson from Westchester County, which was highly unionized, raising the price of a house by 30 percent over that of the exact same one in Queens.
First you need a good product, then you have to tell the world about it. How to do this best? Trump said smartly designed, well located signs are the answer. And it’s a job for a specialist.
Trump chose Cameo Sign Service of 110 Waterbury St. off Ten Eyck Street in Brooklyn for the job. The Trump Homes billboard at the 1939 New York World’s Fair was one of Cameo’s masterpieces, tying into the expo’s theme and appealing to buyers in the mass home market.
Trump had married Scotswoman Mary MacLeod in 1936, and they had five children. This sign is proof that the one named Donald inherited his showmanship genius from his late father, who died in 1999.