Trump Plaza: Onlookers Cheer as Trump’s Atlantic City Casino Demolished

Date: 2021-02-17 17:48:50

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Trump Plaza, the first casino Donald Trump ever built and a faded vestige of Atlantic City’s glamorous past, came crashing to earth Wednesday morning in a cloud of dirt, dust and noise.

Carefully placed explosives imploded the 39-story white tower on the Atlantic Ocean, which stood empty for years. City officials were keen to destroy it amid complaints that chunks of concrete were falling off the building. A few hundred people in cars paid $10 to park at a former airfield less than 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) away on a freezing, winter morning to watch the Plaza’s final destruction.

While Trump’s faded name could still be seen in the outlines of giant letters that once branded the building, he hasn’t owned it in years. Carl Icahn acquired it when he bought Trump Entertainment Resorts out of bankruptcy in 2016. Icahn hasn’t disclosed plans for the property. The mayor of Atlantic City, who fought to tear down the Plaza, said he wants it replaced with a mixed-use development, perhaps something centered on family entertainment. “The last thing we need right now is another casino,” Mayor Marty Small said in an interview.

Taking down the building represents “turning the page, the dawn of a new era,” said Small, a Democrat. “The Trump era in Atlantic City will be officially over.”

“I like the casino business,” Trump wrote in his 1987 book, “The Art of the Deal.” “I like the scale, which is huge, I like the glamour, and most of all, I like the cash flow.”

Trump became interested in casinos early in his career. The idea of getting into the business first came to him in late 1975, when he heard a radio report about how a strike by hotel workers in Las Vegas had sent Hilton’s stock price sinking — even though the two casino hotels were a small portion of the company’s portfolio.

“It occurred to me that even if I finally got the hotel built and it became a major success in the greatest city in the world, it still wouldn’t be nearly as profitable as a moderately successful casino hotel in a small desert town in the Southwest,” Trump wrote in the book. “What I did shortly after I heard that radio report, was take a trip down to Atlantic City.”

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