Donald Trump is now best known as the 45th President of the United States. He used to be a real estate businessman prior to this! But how did a boy from Queens end up becoming one of the most powerful people on the planet? Well, it all began with his grandfather, who saw early American success. This continued with Fred, Donald’s own father. When it was his turn to look after the family fortune, he expanded it some more! Let us find more about the family history and childhood of the current POTUS.
A Little Boy
Fred Trump and Mary Anne MacLeod welcomed Donald John Trump into the world on June 14, 1946. They had tied the knot a decade before this, and the boy was the fourth of five children. Mary Anne delivered him at the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens, New York. He was of German descent from his dad’s side and Scottish from his mom’s. His grandfather Frederick moved to the U.S. in 1885 at the age of 16 and only became a citizen in 1892. Thanks to his business skills and savvy, he built the family fortune from the ground up by running “boomtown” restaurants and boarding houses. Donald once shared this photo as a throwback on Facebook. It showed him as a kid, and he added this caption to it: “Who knew this innocent kid would grow into a monster?” Well, he probably meant that as a joke.
The Family Business
The Trump family earned a lot of money thanks to the grandfather of the POTUS. In 1902, Frederick got married to Elisabeth Christ. In 1905, the couple relocated to New York and ended up spending the rest of their days there! Later that year, they welcomed Fred, Donald’s father. At the age of 15, Fred started to work in the family real estate business. He and his mother started E. Trump & Sons in 1923.
The business primarily operated in the Brooklyn and Queens areas of New York City. Marry Anne MacLeod and Fred Trump got married in 1936 and went on to have five children between them. Ever since he was young, Donald would follow his own rules. Below is a photo of the POTUS with his siblings! You will find Donald on the far left beside Fred Jr., Elizabeth, Maryanne, and Robert on the far right.
From kindergarten through seventh grade, Donald went to the Kew-Forest School. It is a college preparatory school located in Queens. When he was 13 years old, Trump got sent to a private boarding school in Cornwall called New York Military Academy. It was a punishment after his mom and dad found out that he made frequent trips to Manhattan without asking for permission. It turned out that he was a popular kid at his new boarding school! When he took to Facebook to post this photo, Donald added, “#TBT My confirmation picture at First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, N.Y.”
Love of Sports
When he was attending the military academy, he took part in a number of sports. It must have helped that he was 6’2.” He is said to have played tennis, golf, squash, and football. There are pictures of him in a varsity baseball team that surfaced. Even though these interests eventually faded, golf continues to be a staple in his life even decades later.
When he was attending NYMA, he had been on the football team. His love for sports had been there even during his youth. This might be part of the reason he went on to own a football team! He tried to operate a separate American football league in the hopes that it could compete with the NFL.
Here is another photo that he chose to share on his Facebook page. The caption read, “#TBT Myself with mother and father at New York Military Academy. See, I can be very military. High rank!” While he has boasted that he is “very military,” he got 5 draft deferments from service in the army during the Vietnam War.
People In High Places
Four of those were because he was still in college. Meanwhile, the fifth one was for a diagnosis of bone spurs in his heels. Recently, the diagnosis came under scrutiny. The daughter of the podiatrist who conducted the diagnosis claimed that it was only a “favor.” Apparently, Fred Trump was the landlord of the podiatrist!
The Beat Of His Own Drum
If you have heard at least a little about him, then you will know that Donald Trump likes doing this his own way. Here is another “Throwback Thursday” post of him in his NYMA uniform. He had previously made the claim that wearing the uniform made him “very military,” although he did not actually serve in the military.
A Controversial Man
In fact, he would later find himself involved in a controversy after criticizing John McCain for getting captured and held prisoner in the Vietnam War. Instead of calling the senator as a war hero, Trump said, “I like people that weren’t captured.”
In May 1964, Donald Trump graduated from the NYMA. In the fall of that year, he started studying at Fordham University. However, he only attended it for two years before he moved on to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He finished his bachelor of science degree in economics in 1968.
Senior Yearbook Photo
Here was his senior yearbook photo that dates back to 1964. Soon after Trump announced his plan to run in the presidential race, the New York Daily news published this photo on the front page after he criticized McCain. The publication also called out the medals on the uniform and said they must have been awards for “being neat” at school.
Below is a photo of Donald Trump when he graduated from Wharton. He is with Fred Trump, his father. He took to Instagram to post this photo. Donald talked about how his father was able to keep the success of the family business going by constructing and selling “thousands of houses, barracks, and apartments” in New York City. After three years, Donald became the president of E. Trump & Son, which was launched by his father. They eventually renamed the corporation the Trump Organization.
Here is yet another photo that he chose to share on his Facebook page. He wrote, “#TBT With my father, Fred Trump, in Brooklyn,1975. A great Father’s Day gift—a stay at my 5-star hotel.” It must have been a happy moment for these two. However, there was trouble lurking right around the corner. The Trump family settled a lawsuit from the Justice Department that claimed that the company had been systemically discriminating against African-American people.
Still Going Strong
It claimed that the Trump Organization screened people based not on economic status but on race. It turns out that this was not the first time the family encountered a racial discrimination case. In 1969, they got sued by the management of their property in Cincinnati, Ohio. New reports claimed that Fred wanted the lawsuit to be handled lowkey. Even though these setbacks were present, the business did not die down.
Father and Son
Donald Trump, as well as his father Fred, were on the 1982 Forbes initial list of the richest Americans. It was thanks to the fact that they had a combined wealth of $200 million. Fred created trust funds with $1 million each for his children and grandchildren.
He Aspired For More
Donald said that he started his own career when his dad gave him a “small loan of $1 million.” However, he probably got access to the fortune built by his father and grandfather. However, you would be mistaken if you thought that Donald Trump was going to be happy with nothing more than $200 million.
Donald kept accumulating more money in the ‘80s. He eventually secured a place on the Forbes list of billionaires in 1989! A Forbes reporter by the name of Jonathan Greenberg later revealed that he thought Trump tricked him about the family’s wealth to make it to the list. His time on the list was not long, however. From 1990 until 1995, his business losses prevented the feat from happening again. In the photo, Trump talked about the failed bid he made to construct the New York City convention center. He said, “#TBT As a young man when I proposed the Convention Center in New York City.”
His fortune continued to grow, and he wanted to make history in New York City by changing its iconic skyline. For years, he worked on the development of Trump Tower. It eventually got approved and then constructed. In 1983, the building was completed. Here is a photo of Trump with the model of the Fifth Avenue complex in which “one of the apartments will sell for $11 million and [Trump] claims four bidders – none of them Americans – are bidding for it.”
By 1978, he launched the Manhattan real estate company that would bring him to billionaire status. He purchased a 50% stake in the decrepit Commodore Hotel beside the Grand Central Terminal. Two years later, the hotel got reopened under the name Grand Hyatt Hotel. It was a collaboration with the Hyatt hotel franchise.
His Model Wife
Back then, Trump was not all business. He got married to a Czech model called Ivana Zelníčková in 1977. They had 3 kids together, but the marriage ended in divorce after his affair with Marla Maples came to light in 1992.
In the photo, you will see Donald holding his first son, Donald Jr. He and Ivana, his wife at the time, had two more kids together. There was Ivanka, who was born in 1981, as well as Eric, who was born in 1984. Tragedy struck when Trump was expanding the family. His brother Fred Jr. died in 1981 after a long battle with alcohol abuse. The death of his brother took a toll on Donald, who made the decision to quit cigarettes and alcohol after this.
In 1983, Trump purchased a United States Football League team called the New Jersey Generals. Later that year, he was able to lure in Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker to the league. A few years later, Trump was able to get Boston College QB Doug Flutie aboard. However, the USFL folded after it lost an antitrust case against the National Football League in 1986. Let us not forget that Trump’s strategy was to move the league from the spring/summer schedule to the fall/winter one to compete directly with the NFL.
‘The Art of the Deal’
In 1988, Trump made the Donald J. Trump Foundation. It was initially nothing more than a way to give away the proceeds from The Art of the Deal, his most well-known book. As a matter of fact, the tax returns of the foundation show that it gave away money to charities related to sports and healthcare. It also donated funds to conservative political groups. In reference to this photo, Trump said, “Here with my father Fred, back in 1980. My hero, role model, and best friend. #TBT.”
Wollman Rink Renovation
After plenty of missed deadlines, overbudgeting, and bureaucratic measures, the City of New York gave Donald the contract to work on the renovation of the Wollman Rink in Central Park in 1986. They were done renovating it in December that year. Trump was able to leave his mark on this popular attraction. He literally left his logo on the rink railing! He donated part of the profits to charity and public works.
Fred, Trump’s father, died in 1999. Back then, the late man’s will split $20 million among his surviving children. Below you can see Trump and his father outside the Central Park skating rink that he renovated. The Trump team captioned the photo, “#PresidentTrump with his father Fred #Trump at the Wollman Rink in #CentralPark, #NYC – in 1987. #POTUS45 #ThrowbackThursday #TBT.”
Marla Maples went on to be his second wife. In 1989, they first met and began their well-known affair. He was still the husband of Ivana at the time. Donald and Marla had one daughter between them, Tiffany. Apparently, their child was named after the jewelry brand! Two months after the birth of their little angel in October 1993, the couple tied the knot at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. He bought the building in 1988. He eventually sold it in 1995, but he first turned it to a four-star hotel from three stars.
Donald posted this throwback photo. It showed him and his children two decades ago. Here he is standing over Eric, Ivanka, and Donald Jr. Like their dad, they also grew up to inherit a lot of money and started working at the family business. It sure looks like they were good at following traditions!
It Didn’t Work Out
Here is Donald Trump right beside a model of “Television City,” a proposed huge commercial and residential complex in the Upper West Side in Manhattan, right along the Hudson. He was hoping that this project would house the headquarters of NBC News and more TV studios. In his hand is a model of the proposed 150-story building as the centerpiece of the area. It was meant to be the tallest building on the planet. However, things did not go as planned.
Many criticized the development of this area with architecture critics claiming that it was a “woefully simplistic” idea with “little connection to the varied pattern of streets” of the city. On top of this, people did not approve of it when he doubled the area of his original proposal. It got out of control some more when Mayor Ed Koch wanted to give NBC tax breaks if it moved its studios over there. Trump was not getting one, which resulted in name-calling.
Getting His Foot In The Door
If there is a picture that shows Trump branching out of the business created by his dad and grandpa, this might be it. You can see him after he got the approval of the New York Board of Estimate to buy and refurbish the decrepit Commodore Hotel in Manhattan. It was what truly let him get his foot in the real estate business.
It would not be fair to say that he ventured out by himself. He got a $70 million construction loan courtesy of the Hyatt Hotel chain and Fred Trump. While Trump says that he created his company from the ground up, a lot of it is still owed to the success of his father and grandfather.
Trump Tower Completion
Aside from finalizing the takeover of the Commodore Hotel, the city approved of his rights to develop his Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan as well. To push through with his plans, Trump sought out undocumented Polish workers for the demolition of the old Bonwit Teller retailer flagship store. The building was famous for the art deco features and was meant to be preserved by the city. The construction of the Trump Tower lasted four years. The final spaces were launched in November 1983. These days, the building houses many commercial and residential spaces. No doubt, the most famous one would be the Trump Organization headquarters and the penthouse that Trump himself owns.
Trump Tower Opening
Here is Trump and Roy Cohn, his lawyer friend, during the opening of Trump Tower back in 1983. They have a fascinating history. Cohn represented him during a federal lawsuit filed by the Justice Department. He was allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act at 39 by quoting different conditions, rental terms, and making false statements to black tenants to stop them from getting a rental. Cohn did not succeed at countering it, which was why Trump had to settle in 1975. He later returned to court for the violation of the 1975 settlement terms. However, it was not just the legal aid that he needed. Apparently, Trump has similar public ‘counterattacks,’ which might explain why he likes giving the press comments.
This photo of Trump posing in Trump Tower was taken in 1984. He shared with reporters, “What I have done is build the most beautiful buildings in the best locations.” He made his mark on the Plaza Hotel and Wollman skating rink in the ‘80s.
At the start of the ‘90s, he helped refurbish the Gulf and Western Building, as well as the Bank of Manhattan Trust Building. After extensively renovating it, this became Trump Building. He also tried to rename the Empire State Building after buying shares from 1994 to 2002. He was hoping to have its name changed to “Trump Empire State Building Tower Apartments.”
This photo was taken outside a federal court as he was exiting it in 1986. His unhappy face might have something to do with his $750,000 settlement for an antitrust lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission. He did not notify the government before he bought more than $15 million of voting stock in Holiday Corp. and Bally Manufacturing Corp. Even though that was a huge sum, things were going well for Trump. He could escape the small New York setbacks since he just came into possession of a huge estate in Palm Beach, Florida. You might have heard of it under the name Mar-a-Lago estate!
He seemed unhappy with his acquisitions in New York City, so he started to work on New Jersey next. After the state legalization of casino gambling in 1977, he wanted to start business operations over there. In 1984, he launched Harrah’s at Trump Plaza hotel and casino. During the mid to late ‘80s, he bought several more casino properties at Atlantic City. These ended up being bad financial decisions.
Here are Fred and Donald Trump with Mayor Ed Koch of New York City back in July 1982. They looked very happy, although Trump would eventually find out that his attempts to go into the New Jersey casino business were not lucrative. As he bought Atlantic City properties, his financial performances showed him the error of his ways. It was why he had to sell his airline, Trump Shuttle. On top of that, he needed to restructure debt and sell off Trump Princess, his mega-yacht. In 1995, he was able to consolidate his casinos under Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts. It got bankruptcy restructuring from 2004 to 2009.
It turned out that his gamble on the casinos in Atlantic City was not his only failure in New Jersey. He hired Walt Michaels to be the Head Coach for the New Jersey Generals, his United States Football League. He bought the team in 1983 and hoped that they would help the league compete with the more famous National Football League. He made a huge mistake, however. Many teams were already losing money, and Trump wanted to move the schedule to fall/winter so that it can compete with the NFL. While the USFL won its antitrust suit against the NFL, it only got $1. This was a “victory in name only.” Many teams could not afford the costs of the operations, which led to the disbandment of the league.
If you are familiar with his aesthetic preferences, perhaps you recognize the photo to be the interior of a property of his. He likes gold! It was taken with Ivana, his first wife, in St. Petersburg, Russia back in 1987. Trump has a history with the country. This visit had been an exploration of hotel development at the invitation of Ambassador Yuri Dubinin. Nearly a decade after that, Trump tried to seal more deals in 1996. He asserted that he did not have connections with the country, which was proved false after it came to light that he had a deal to build in Moscow in June 2016. He also received a lot of financial support from a Russian source in the ‘90s. Donald Jr. said Russia composed a “pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. … We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
Even though he has since fallen out of favor with people from the show business, he used to appear at the red carpet often. Who can blame him when he was a New York elite class staple from his birth? He has appeared in a couple of films in 1989 and almost always plays himself. He naturally became a bigger star when NBC got him as the host of The Apprentice in 2003. It was a big hit and made his “You’re fired” catchphrase go around. They also made The Celebrity Apprentice, its spin-off.
These days, Trump goes against celebs who criticize his style of governing. However, this did not use to be the case. Even though he has since distanced himself from certain famous folks, there was a connection that people looked into. Here is a photo of Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein at the Mar-a-Lago resort in 1997. They were friends for over a decade, and Trump once told New York Magazine, “I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
Friends Like These
The comments he made about Jeffrey liking ladies “on the younger side” received a lot of scrutiny in 2019. After all, Epstein got arrested for sex trafficking minors in New York and Florida. For decades, there were rumors that Epstein was a pedophile. Trump partied with him at the Mar-a-Lego estate often. They ultimately had a falling out. In 2004, the wealthy financiers got into a bidding war for the Maison de l’Amitie or House of Friendship. It was a popular oceanfront Palm Beach property that went to Trump in the end. It must have upset Epstein because they did not speak after that. Four years after that, Trump sold this estate to a Russian businessman by the name of Dmitry Rybolovlev.
Take a look at this official portrait of Donald Trump. Taken in 1983, it sure brings us back to the time that he used to make the headlines every single day. It was taken in the same year that he made it to the Forbes list of wealthy people. He owned a share of the $200 million estimated value of the Trump company. In the ‘80s, his financial losses made him drop off the list. He eventually made a comeback! In 2019, Forbes reported that he has an estimated net worth of $3.1 billion, making him the 259th wealthiest man in the country. At any rate, he is certainly the first president to be a billionaire. Forbes said that his wealth dropped by 31% since he made his announcement about his presidential candidacy.
During his time at the NYMA, Donald Trump attended a number of school functions and joined certain teams. This is a photo from his yearbook. It said that he was a “Ladies’ Man.” It took them 50 years to track down the identity of this woman. She was apparently Fran Dunn, who was a secretary at the school! She got asked to be in the picture with the young Donald Trump. That was not the end of it, because his reputation only kept growing as he got older and racked up scandals!