Fred F. French

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For the New Zealand rugby union and professional rugby league footballer of the 1930s and '40s, see Freddie French. For the British hairstylist and wig maker, see Freddie French (hairdresser).
Frederick Fillmore French
Born (1883-10-14)October 14, 1883
Died August 30, 1936(1936-08-30) (aged 52)
Pawling, New York
Education Horace Mann School
Occupation Real estate developer
Known for Tudor City
Knickerbocker Village
Fred F. French Building

Frederick Fillmore French (October 14, 1883 – August 30, 1936) was a real estate developer.


He was born in Manhattan, New York City on October 14, 1883 and attended the Horace Mann School.[1] He built Tudor City, a housing development on Manhattan's East Side, for the rising middle class in the 1920s.[2] He also developed Knickerbocker Village, middle-class housing on the Lower East Side between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge. His original intention for the project was to build housing for "junior Wall Street executives".[3] His Fred F. French Building is a well-known skyscraper on Fifth Avenue in Midtown.

French and his company served as the developer and landlord of Knickerbocker Village, important in the history of landlord–tenant law. When the tenants were to take possession of their apartments, they found conditions to be unlivable.[4] Facilities were either unfinished or poorly equipped, including non-working elevators and inoperable laundry rooms.[5] The tenants formed the Knickerbocker Village Tenants Association and started a strike, withholding their rent checks until their grievances were dealt with. The conflict that arose from the tenants' dissatisfaction led to New York City's rent control laws.

He died on August 30, 1936 in Pawling, New York of a heart attack.[6][7]


The life of Fred F French and his contribution to the development of New York City was covered in detail by Alexander Rayden in "The People's City, A History of the Influence and Contribution of Mass Real Estate Syndication in the Development of New York City". [8]


  1. ^ "Irving S. Broun, Realty Man, Dies. Retired President of Fred French Investing Was 82.". the New York Times. January 4, 1969. Retrieved 2009-01-14. He had attended the Horace Mann School with the late Fred F. French and later helped him plan the erection and promotion of Tudor City, ... 
  2. ^ "Mrs. Frederick French". The New York Times. October 31, 1960. Retrieved 2009-01-14. Her husband, who died in 1936, was chairman of the Fred F. French Companies, which built Tudor City and other large developments. Surviving are a daughter ... 
  3. ^ "Knickerbocker Village". Time magazine. October 15, 1934. Retrieved 2009-01-14. In 1929 Realtor Fred Fillmore French began buying land on the lower East Side. By swearing his 42 brokers to secrecy and using dummy corporations, he managed to get some 15 acres for $5,000,000. Then in 1931 he announced a grandiose scheme for the erection of a $50,000,000 development for junior Wall Street executives. At this point he found that he could not get credit. At the same time Fred F. French Operators, Inc. began passing its dividends on $14,000,000 of preferred stock. The project remained only a scheme with a staggering upkeep in land taxes. 
  4. ^ Morrison, James. "Who in the World Was Fred F. French?". City Journal (Autumn 1998). Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  5. ^ Naison, Mark. "The Rebirth of Activism". The Tenant Movement in New York City, 1904-1984. Retrieved 2008-05-04.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  6. ^ "Died". Time magazine. September 7, 1936. Retrieved 2009-01-14. Frederick Fillmore French, 52, Manhattan builder (Tudor City, Knickerbocker Village); of angina pectoris; in Pawling, N. Y. An admirer of the late Thomas Edison, he worked late, slept little, never drank or attended the theatre, assigned his staff daily readings in Elbert Hubbard. 
  7. ^ "Fred F. French Dies Suddenly". The New York Times. August 30, 1936. Retrieved 2009-01-14. Leader in Developing New York Residential Sections Rose From Poverty. Tudor City and Knickerbocker Village Were the Builder's Chief Accomplishments. 
  8. ^ Greg Aunapu (29 May 2009). "‘French Plan’ ahead of its time". The Real Deal New York.