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Trump Tower
Trump Tower (7181836700) (cropped).jpg
View from Fifth Avenue
Trump Tower is located in Manhattan
Trump Tower
Trump Tower
Trump Tower is located in New York City
Trump Tower
Trump Tower
Trump Tower is located in New York
Trump Tower
Trump Tower
Trump Tower is located in the US
Trump Tower
Trump Tower
General information
Status Complete
Type Retail, office, and residential
Architectural style Modernism
Location 721 Fifth Avenue
New York City, NY 10022
United States
Coordinates 40°45′45″N 73°58′26″W / 40.7625°N 73.9738°W / 40.7625; -73.9738Coordinates: 40°45′45″N 73°58′26″W / 40.7625°N 73.9738°W / 40.7625; -73.9738
Current tenants The Trump Organization
Named for Donald Trump
Construction started 1979 (1979)
Completed 1983 (1983)
Inaugurated November 30, 1983; 34 years ago (1983-11-30)
Cost $300 million
Owner Donald Trump, The Trump Organization
Height
Architectural 664 ft (202 m)[1]
Technical details
Material Concrete
Floor count 58
Lifts/elevators 34
Design and construction
Architect Der Scutt
Architecture firm Poor, Swanke, Hayden & Connell
Developer Donald Trump
Structural engineer Irwin Cantor
Other information
Number of units 238
Number of restaurants 3
Number of bars 1

Trump Tower is a 58-story, 664-foot-high (202 m) mixed-use skyscraper at 721–725 Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Trump Tower serves as the headquarters for The Trump Organization. Additionally, it houses the penthouse condominium residence of the building's namesake and developer, U.S. President Donald Trump, who was a businessman and real estate developer when the tower was developed. Several members of the Trump family also live, or have resided, in the building. The tower stands on a plot where the flagship store of department-store chain Bonwit Teller was formerly located.

Der Scutt of Poor, Swanke, Hayden & Connell designed Trump Tower, and Trump and the Equitable Life Assurance Company (now the AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company) developed it. Although it is in one of Midtown Manhattan's special zoning districts, the tower was approved because it was to be built as a mixed-use development. Trump was permitted to add more stories to the tower because of the atrium on the ground floor. There were controversies during construction, including the destruction of historically important sculptures from the Bonwit Teller store; Trump's alleged underpaying of contractors; and a lawsuit that Trump filed because the tower was not tax-exempt.

Construction on the building began in 1979. The atrium, apartments, offices, and stores opened on a staggered schedule from February to November 1983. At first, there were few tenants willing to move in to the commercial and retail spaces; the residential units were sold out within months of opening. Since 2016, the tower has seen a large increase in visitation because of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and subsequent election—both his 2016 and 2020 campaigns are headquartered in the tower.

Development

Looking upward from the Fifth Avenue entrance

Context

Donald Trump, a prominent New York City real estate developer, had envisioned building a tower at 56th Street and Fifth Avenue since childhood, but he only formulated plans to develop the site in the mid-1970s, when he was in his thirties.[2] At the time, the Bonwit Teller flagship store, an architecturally renowned building built in 1929, occupied the lot.[3] The site was next to Tiffany's flagship store on 57th Street, which Trump considered the city's best real-estate property.[4] Approximately twice every year, Trump contacted Bonwit Teller's parent company, Genesco, to ask whether they were willing to sell Bonwit Teller's flagship store. Trump said the first time he contacted Genesco, "they literally laughed at me."[5] Genesco continued to decline his offers and, according to Trump, "they thought I was kidding."[2]

In 1977, John Hanigan became the new chairman of Genesco.[6] He looked to sell off some assets to pay debts, and Trump approached him with an offer to buy the Bonwit Teller building.[7] In February 1979, Genesco sold off many of the Bonwit Teller locations to Allied Stores, and sold the brand's flagship building to the Trump Organization.[8] At the time, the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States owned the land,[9] while Genesco had a long-term lease on the land, with 29 years remaining. If Trump were to buy the land, his tower's ownership could be transferred to Equitable in 2008, once the lease expired.[5][10] Equitable initially refused to sell the land to Trump, but the Trump Organization bought the lease instead, and Equitable donated the land in return for a 50% stake in the construction project itself. This was more profitable for Equitable, since they were only getting $100,000 per year from Genesco for the use of the land, while a single condominium in the tower could make millions of dollars.[11][12] Trump also bought the air rights around Tiffany's flagship store[5][13][14] to prevent another developer from tearing down the store and building a taller building.[15]

Trump then needed to convince the New York City Department of City Planning, Manhattan Community Board 5, and the New York City Board of Estimate to rezone the area for his planned tower.[15] In 1979, the New York Committee for a Balanced Building Boom had opposed the planned rezoning over fears Fifth Avenue's character would be changed by the construction of skyscrapers.[16] Trump later said that a positive review of the building by the famed architectural critic Ada Louise Huxtable had played a part in securing the support of some of the more skeptical members on each committee.[17] The deal attracted some criticism from the media. A writer for New York magazine said that the approval of Trump Tower has "legitimized a pushy kid nobody took seriously,"[18] while The Wall Street Journal wrote that Trump combined "a huckster's flair for hyperbole with a shrewd business and political sense," and The Village Voice said that Trump "turn[s] political connections into private profits at public expense."[17]

Planning

The Trump Organization closed Bonwit Teller's flagship store in May 1979,[19] and the store was demolished by 1980.[3] Trump hired Der Scutt, the architect of Trump Tower, in July 1978, a year before the Bonwit Teller site was purchased. Scutt had collaborated with Trump before to develop Grand Hyatt New York and several other projects. The architect initially proposed a design similar to Boston's John Hancock Tower, but Trump objected strongly.[20] He preferred a building that was both very tall and expensive, with a design that critics and potential tenants would approve of. The real-estate mogul later stated that "the marble in Trump Tower would cost more than the entire rent from one of my buildings in Brooklyn."[21]

Two major factors affected Trump Tower's construction. One was the decision to build it around a concrete frame, in contrast to many other skyscrapers, which were built on steel frames. Scutt said that a concrete frame was easier to build and was more rigid than a steel frame was.[22] The other was the decision to design Trump Tower as a mixed-use building with retail, office, and residential units.[13] Originally, Trump only wanted to build an office building on the site, but the plot was located in a special zoning district, which specified height limits for most office towers in the area. However, mixed-use towers with public space were exempt from the height limit.[13][21] The Trump Organization built a five-story, 15,000-square-foot (1,400 m2) atrium, which was legally designated a "public space" according to city code, in exchange for permission to add 20 stories to the planned tower.[14] The Trump Organization also constructed terraces on the building's setbacks,[13] as well as a pedestrian arcade at ground level through the middle of the block, which connected to IBM's 590 Madison Avenue tower to the east.[13][14] At the time, the building was the only skyscraper on Fifth Avenue with its own retail space.[13]

As originally planned, the tower was to have 60 stories consisting of 13 office floors, 40 condominium floors, and two floors for mechanical uses, but this was later amended.[13] The base was to be made of limestone, while the building's elevators were to be in a separate glass structure outside the main tower.[23] The final plan called for the building to contain 58 stories.[24][25] The lowest six floors were to be occupied by the atrium, followed by 13 office floors above it, and 39 condominium floors above the office floors.[26]

While creating the final design for Trump Tower, Scutt studied the designs of other skyscrapers, almost all having a similar architectural form. To make Trump Tower stand out from the "boxy" International Style buildings being erected at the time, Scutt designed the tower as a 28-faced edifice with an "inverted pyramid of cubes" at the base.[27] This design received mixed reviews from critics: although it was widely praised as creative, many reviewers also believed the tower could be covered in masonry to blend in with neighboring buildings, or that its height should be reduced for the same reason.[28] The city ultimately accepted this design.[25]

Construction

HRH Construction was hired as the contractor on Trump Tower.[29] The company would go on to build many of Trump's other real-estate developments.[30] HRH hired several dozen subcontractors to work on different aspects of the building.[31] Barbara Res, who had worked on some of Trump's other projects,[32] was hired as the construction executive in October 1980.[33][34] She had previously worked for HRH Construction during the building of the Citigroup Center and the Grand Hyatt.[35] Res was the first woman assigned to oversee a major New York City construction site.[32][34] She was often ignored by subcontractors and suppliers who were new to the project, as they thought the person in charge of construction was a man.[33]

The head superintendent of the project was Anthony "Tony Raf" Rafaniello,[36] who worked for HRH Construction.[37] He was in charge of coordinating construction based on the site's blueprints.[37] Rafaniello was supported by five assistant superintendents, including Jeff Doynow, who was one of the first "concrete supervisors" to be hired for the construction of a skyscraper.[38] After Rafaniello was hired for the Trump Tower project in September 1980, he spent a week planning a three-phase construction schedule.[31] Once the subcontractors were hired, Rafaniello made sure they met once a week ensure they were working on the same phase.[39]

Trump Tower's proposed mixed-use status posed obstacles during construction since there were different regulations for residential, commercial, and retail spaces.[40] Several prospective commercial and residential tenants requested custom-made features, including the installation of a swimming pool for one unit, and the removal of a wall with utilities inside it for another.[40] Trump's then-wife, Ivana Trump, was involved in selecting some of the tower's minor details.[31] Donald Trump and Res agreed to fulfill many of these requests, but they did not always agree on matters of design. In one case, Trump so hated the marble slabs at some of the tower's corners that he demanded they be removed completely, even at great cost; he eventually decided that bronze panels should be placed over the marble, but Res later said she refused to buy them.[41]

Trump Tower was also the first skyscraper with a concrete frame,[40] and so the contractors had to complete a floor before they started erecting the floor above it. Concrete was more expensive in New York City than anywhere else in the United States, which raised the construction costs.[42] All of the floors above the 20th used a roughly similar design, and each of these floors could be completed within two days. However, the floors below the 20th floor were all different, so each took several weeks to erect.[43] Trump Tower was topped out by July 1982, two-and-a-half years after the start of construction.[44]

Originally, it was estimated the tower would cost $100 million to build.[13] The total cost ended up being approximately twice that; this included $125 million in actual construction costs and $75 million for other expenditures such as insurance.[45]

Incidents

Trump Tower had a low number of worker fatalities during construction. One worker died during the tower's excavation after a neighboring sidewalk collapsed.[46] Another incident occurred when the tower's 25th through 27th floors accidentally caught fire, slightly damaging a construction crane. Firefighters had to rescue the crane's operator.[47][48] The fire delayed construction for two months.[48]

In May 1983, a glass windowpane fell from a crane installing windows on the tower, hitting two pedestrians.[49] One of them later died from a skull fracture.[50]

Controversies

View of the atrium from its base

Destruction of Bonwit Teller Building features

The art dealer Robert Miller owned a gallery across Fifth Avenue from the Bonwit Teller Building.[51] When Miller heard the building was to be demolished, he contacted Penelope Hunter-Stiebel, a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In December 1979, Stiebel and Trump agreed that the Art Deco limestone bas-relief sculptures of semi-nude goddesses on the Bonwit Teller Building's facade, as well as the massive ornate 15 by 25 feet (4.6 by 7.6 m) grille above the store's entrance, would be removed and donated to the Metropolitan Museum.[3][52][53] Miller had appraised the sculptures at between $200,000 and $250,000.[52][51] In February 1980, Trump wrote a letter to an official at the museum, in which he stated, "Our contractor plans to begin demolition on the exterior of the building in approximately three to four weeks. He has been instructed to save these artifacts and take all necessary measures to preserve them."[51] Every week, the Trump Organization and Stiebel would meet to discuss the transport of the sculptures. However, Stiebel later said the Trump Organization never seemed to be able to agree on a specific date for their transport, and the organization had repeatedly dismissed her concerns about not having received the letter.[54]

On April 16, 1980, the grille and sculptures were removed from the building. They were set to be transported to a junkyard and destroyed because, according to Trump, there were general hazard concerns, expense, and a possible 10-day construction delay due to the difficulty of removing them.[3][52] Stiebel rode by taxicab to the building site and attempted to pay the workmen for the sculptures, but she was rebuffed.[55] The workers in charge of demolition told her that she could make an appointment to go see the sculptures, but they then canceled several appointments that Stiebel made.[54] The workers later told her that the building's decorative grille had been transported to a New Jersey warehouse,[54][52] but it was never recovered, and on May 28, Stiebel was informed the grille had been "lost".[56][52] On June 5, the sculptures were destroyed.[57][56] Stiebel had received notice of the sculptures' pending demolition, but by the time she reached the Trump Tower site, the workmen told her that they had been ordered to "destroy it all."[56] Trump later acknowledged he had personally ordered the destruction of the sculptures and grille.[53] Trump said that these "so-called Art Deco sculptures, which were garbage by the way," had been informally appraised by three different individuals as "not valuable," and they had pegged the sculptures' value at $4,000 to $5,000. He also told the media that carefully removing the sculptures would have cost him an extra $500,000 and would have delayed his project.[58] In a New York Magazine article in November 1980, Trump said that the decor of his Grand Hyatt New York included "real art, not like the junk I destroyed at Bonwit Teller."[59]

The New York Times condemned Trump's actions as "esthetic vandalism,"[60] and a spokesman for Mayor Ed Koch said Trump had failed his "moral responsibility to consider the interests of the people of the city."[53] Scutt was outraged by the destruction, having initially hoped to incorporate the goddess sculptures into the new building's lobby design; Trump had rejected the plan, preferring something "more contemporary."[52] Miller lamented that such things would "never be made again," and Peter M. Warner, a researcher who worked across the street, called the destruction "regrettable."[61] However, Trump later said he used the notoriety of that act to advertise more residential units in the tower.[59][58]

Unpaid laborers

In 1983, a class-action lawsuit was filed against the Trump Organization concerning unpaid pension and medical obligations to labor unions that helped build the towers.[62] Trump had paid $774,000 to a window-cleaning company that employed undocumented Polish immigrants during the renovation of an adjoining building.[63] According to the laborers, they were paid $4 an hour for 12-hour shifts, and were not told about asbestos in the under-construction structure.[63]

Trump testified in 1990 he was unaware that 200 undocumented Polish immigrants, some of whom lived at the site during a 1980 transit strike, and worked round-the-clock shifts, were involved in the destruction of the Bonwit Teller building and the Trump Tower project.[64] Trump said he rarely visited the demolition site[64] and never noticed the laborers, who were visually distinct for their lack of hard hats.[65] A labor consultant and FBI informant testified that Trump was aware of the illegal workers' status.[64] Trump testified that he and an executive used the pseudonym "John Baron" in some of his business dealings,[64] although Trump said he did not do so until years after Trump Tower was constructed.[65] A labor lawyer testified that he was threatened over the phone with a $100 million lawsuit by a John Baron who supposedly worked for the Trump Organization. Donald Trump later told a reporter, "Lots of people use pen names. Ernest Hemingway used one."[65]

After the laborers filed for a mechanic's lien over unpaid wages, they said a Trump Organization lawyer threatened to have the Immigration and Naturalization Service deport them.[63] A judge ruled in favor of the Polish laborers in 1991, saying that the organization had to pay the workers.[66] The contractor was ultimately ordered to pay the laborers $254,000.[63][67]

The case went through several appeals by both sides as well as non-jury trials, and was reassigned to different judges several times.[68][69] The original named plaintiff, plaintiffs' attorney, and two co-defendants, died during the litigation, leading Judge Kevin Duffy to compare it unfavorably to Charles Dickens' fictional case Jarndyce and Jarndyce in June 1998, when he was assigned the case after the death of the previous presiding judge.[62] The lawsuit was ultimately settled in 1999, with its records sealed.[65] In November 2017, U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska ordered the settlement documents unsealed.[63] In the settlement, Trump agreed to pay a total of $1.375 million,[63] which, according to the plaintiffs' lawyer, was the full amount that could have been recovered at trial.[63]

Other controversies

There were several other controversies related to the construction process. In one case, Trump sued a contractor for "total incompetence."[70] Construction was also halted twice because minority rights' groups protested outside the Trump Tower site to condemn the dearth of minority construction workers.[39]

Trump was also involved in a disagreement with Mayor Koch about whether the tower should get a tax exemption.[70][71] In 1985, Trump was one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state in the New York State Court of Appeals concerning the payment of a 10% state tax in the event that a real estate property is transacted for $1 million or more. The exemption was worth between $15 million and $20 million.[72][73] The tax on Trump Tower was upheld in a 4 to 1 decision.[74]

The City of New York granted Trump permission to build the top 20 stories of the building in exchange for operating the atrium as a city-administered, privately owned public space. In the lobby of the building are two Trump merchandise kiosks (one of which replaced a long public bench) operating out of compliance with city regulations. The city issued a notice of violation in July 2015, demanding the bench be put back in place. Although the Trump Organization initially said that the violation was without merit,[75] a lawyer speaking for Trump's organization stated in January 2016 that the kiosks would be removed in two to four weeks, before an expected court ruling.[76]

In 2015, journalist David Cay Johnston questioned the particular use of concrete and suggested there was a connection with organized crime.[77] Johnston stated that a 1992 book by journalist Wayne Barrett had also come to similar conclusions: "Trump didn't just do business with mobbed-up concrete companies: he also probably met personally with [Anthony] Salerno at the townhouse of notorious New York fixer Roy Cohn ... at a time when other developers in New York were pleading with the FBI to free them of mob control of the concrete business."[78] Barrett himself questioned some of Trump's business dealings in a Daily Beast article in 2011, and that concrete was one of "several dozen" suspected mob connections that Trump had.[79]

Opening and later years

Occupancy

Clock in front of Trump Tower

Trump bought full-page advertisements in multiple newspapers and magazines to advertise his new tower.[45] The first tenants included Asprey[80] and Ludwig Beck,[81] who moved into the building before its planned opening in early 1983.[82]:196–197 The grand opening of the atrium and stores was held on February 14, 1983, with the apartments and offices following shortly afterwards. The tower's 40 ground-level stores opened for business on November 30, 1983.[29] At the building's dedication, Mayor Koch said, "This is not your low-income housing project [...] of which we need many. But we also need accommodations, uh, for those who can afford to pay a lot of money and bring a lot of taxes into the city."[83]:117 By August 1983, the construction loan for Trump Tower's construction had been paid off using the $260 million revenue from the sale of 85% the 263 condominium units. Ninety-one units, representing over a third of the tower's total housing stock, had sold more than $1 million. The first residents were set to begin moving in that month.[84]

Despite the destruction of the Bonwit Teller store's building, the flagship store itself was able to keep operating at the site, having signed a lease for 80,000 square feet (7,400 m2) within the lower-levels' shopping area.[16] The controversy over the destruction of the Bonwit Teller decorations had largely passed: in August 1983, one New York Times reporter wrote that "the only negative comments about Donald Trump these days are given off the record."[84] By then, there were forty high-end outfits that had opened stores in the tower.[84] These included Buccellati, Charles Jourdan brands, Mondi, and Fila.[82]:197 Trump said in 1985 that there were more than 100 stores wanting to move into a space in the tower.[72] Around this time, he began describing the tower as "something of a New York landmark."[72]

By 1986, between 15% and 20% of the tower's original stores had closed or moved to another location. The commercial rents were the highest of any building along Fifth Avenue at the time, with retail space in the atrium costing $450 per square foot ($4,800/m2) per year.[85] One writer for Vanity Fair magazine noted that as tenants were evicted from the tower's atrium due to high rents, several of them sued the Trump Organization for issues such as overbilling and illegal lease termination.[86]

The residential units were more successful, and 95% of the condominiums were sold in the first four months after it opened, despite their high prices. The cost of condominiums at the tower started at $600,000 and ranged up to $12 million,[87] and the penthouse was sold for $15 million in 1985.[88] The tower attracted many rich and famous residents,[72] including Johnny Carson, David Merrick, Sophia Loren, and Steven Spielberg.[82]:197 At least one unidentified resident, who lived on the same floor as Johnny Carson, built a private swimming pool in their unit.[89] In total, Trump received $300 million from the sale of the condominiums, which more than offset the $200 million cost of construction.[82]:197 However, by 1991, Trump was already involved in lawsuits against residents: in October of that year, he successfully[90] sued actor Pia Zadora and her husband, businessman Meshulam Riklis, to collect $1 million in unpaid rent.[91]

Donald Trump and Bill Clinton at Trump Tower in 2000
Donald Trump with Bill Clinton at Trump Tower in 2000

The flagship Bonwit Teller store remained as one of Trump Tower's retail offerings until March 1990, when its parent company declared bankruptcy and closed the Trump Tower location.[92] In July of that year, Galeries Lafayette announced that it would sign a 25-year lease to move into the space previously occupied by Bonwit Teller, a move that expanded its business to the United States while helping Trump pay off the debts incurred by the tower's construction and operation.[93] The new store opened in September 1991 after a $13.7 million renovation,[94] but was unprofitable and lost a net $3.6 million in the first year alone because it had only made $8.4 million in sales.[95] Galeries Lafayette announced that it would be closing the Trump Tower location in August 1994, less than three years after it opened, due to its inability to pay the $8 million annual rent and taxes. However, critics cited other factors, including the decision not to include merchandise from top French designers as the company's French locations had done.[96]

The Galeries Lafayette store was replaced with a Niketown location.[97] By this time, most of the high-end retailers had moved out of Trump Tower, having been replaced with more upper-middle-class outlets such as Coach and Dooney & Bourke.[98] The Niketown store still remained in the tower as of the 2016 election with a lease at that location until 2022.[99] Nike also leased some space at 6 East 57th Street next to the tower, but in November 2016, it signed a $700 million contract for a new retail space a few blocks south, having intended to move out of 6 East 57th since 2013.[100] During and after the election, there were petitions to relocate the Niketown store, created by advocacy organizations who opposed Trump's election.[101][102]

Valuation

Main entrance

In 2006, Forbes magazine valued the 300,000 square feet (28,000 m2) of office space at up to $318 million; the tower itself was valued at $288 million, since the Trump Organization had a $30 million mortgage on the property.[103] As of 2013, that mortgage had risen to $100 million.[104] The valuation of the building rose from $490 million in 2014 to $600 million in 2015 due to increased rent payments by anchor store Gucci. This revaluation made the tower the single most expensive property under Trump's ownership.[105]

In 2016, however, the tower's value dropped sharply from $630 million to $471 million, losing $159 million of valuation due to a 20% reduction in the tower's operating income and a further 8% decline in the overall value of real estate in Manhattan. Due to a $100 million debt incurred on Trump Tower, Forbes magazine calculated the tower's net worth at $371 million, excluding the Trumps' three-story penthouse,[106] which has a net floor area of 10,996 square feet (1,021.6 m2).[107]

Controversies

In March 2017, after Trump was elected president, he wrote several posts on Twitter[108] claiming that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped phones in the tower toward the end of the 2016 campaign.[109] An Obama spokesperson refuted the claims[110] and, during a subsequent meeting with the House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee that discussed the issue, FBI Director James Comey informed the committee that there was no evidence of wiretapping in the tower.[111] In response to allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, media outlets such as The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal have referred to Trump Tower as "Russia House," especially after the wiretapping claims.[112][113]

Trump also claimed to own the painting Two Sisters (On the Terrace),[114] an 1881 work by French Impressionist artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The original work hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago.[115] In October 2017, Timothy L. O'Brien said that during his interviews with Trump for the book TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald, he asked Trump about the copy of Two Sisters, which was then on Trump's plane. Trump repeatedly said that his copy was the genuine work, despite O'Brien's statements to the contrary.[114] By then, the Renoir copy was hanging in Trump's penthouse office.[114] The Art Institute of Chicago released a statement refuting Trump's claim that his Renoir copy was the genuine one.[116][117][118]

Incidents

On August 9, 2016, a man posted a YouTube video where he said he was an independent researcher wishing to speak to Donald Trump. It went viral.[119][120] The next day, a man, suspected to be the one who had posted the YouTube video, climbed the outside of Trump Tower from the 5th to the 21st floors.[121] He was aid climbing using industrial suction cups.[120][121][122][123] During the incident, the police attempted to "safely isolate" the climber, breaking and removing windows to try to capture him.[124] After climbing for two hours and 45 minutes, the NYPD Emergency Service Units (ESU) apprehended him at the 21st floor of the tower.[121][123][124] The man identified himself as Stephen Rogata, a 20-year-old Virginia resident.[122][123][125] Rogata was arrested for endangerment and criminal trespassing and taken to Bellevue Hospital for psychiatric evaluation.[121][122][123]

At around 5:30 p.m. (EDT) on April 7, 2018, a 4-alarm fire broke out in a condominium in the tower's 50th floor, killing a resident and injuring six firefighters; the apartment was almost entirely engulfed in flames by the time the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) arrived.[126] In a Twitter post, Trump attributed the fire's limited damage to the building's design.[127][128] The sole fatality was 67-year-old Todd Brassner, an art dealer known for his association with Andy Warhol, who had endured debilitating medical problems for several years.[129][130] Brassner's apartment, as well as the rest of the residential units in Trump Tower, did not contain sprinklers because the structure had been built before 1999, when the city passed a law requiring sprinklers in residential units;[130] Trump had lobbied against the proposal.[131] The FDNY later announced that the fire had been accidentally caused by power wires that had overheated.[132] The April 2018 fire followed a minor electrical fire at the tower earlier that year, which had injured three people.[133]

Security issues

Demonstrators and security outside Trump Tower's entrance

Serious issues concerning safety and security in the building arose after Trump was declared president-elect of the United States on November 8, 2016.[134] Trump Tower had served as a rallying point for protests against Trump in the days after the election's results were announced, thus requiring extra deployment of security officials.[135][136] The Federal Aviation Administration imposed a no-fly zone over Trump Tower until January 20, 2017,[137] and the NYPD stated that it expected to spend $35 million to provide security to the tower, of which $7 million would be repaid by Congress.[138] The NYPD later revised its estimate to $24 million.[139]

Street closures were imposed along the east side of Fifth Avenue and on the north side of 56th Street, and NYPD officers started stopping and questioning pedestrians about their destinations.[140] The block of 56th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues was closed completely to vehicular traffic, but the eastern part of the street, located west of Madison Avenue, was later reopened to allow local deliveries.[141] Customers of the Gucci and Tiffany stores in Trump Tower's lobby were allowed to proceed, while other pedestrians were redirected to the opposite side of the street.[140] During presidential visits, dump trucks from the New York City Department of Sanitation were parked outside the tower to prevent car bombs.[142] Fire protection was also provided for the tower whenever Trump visited it.[128] The press nicknamed the now-heavily secured building "White House North", comparing it to the White House's West Wing.[143][144][145]

As a result of the heavy security, businesses around the tower saw decreased patronage due to less foot traffic in the heavily secured area.[146] Protests around the tower subsided after Trump's inauguration in January 2017,[147] and by summer 2017, security measures around the tower had been loosened somewhat, owing to the fact that most of them were implemented only when Trump was actually in the tower.[148] However, several businesses at the tower's base had closed by then because of a reduction in the number of customers.[148]

Despite the heavy security after the 2016 election, there have been some detentions and arrests related to the increased security at the tower. On December 6, a woman managed to bypass security and go to the 24th floor—two floors below Donald Trump's office—before being stopped by Secret Service officers.[149] A week later on December 13, a Baruch College student who was arrested at Trump Tower was found to have multiple weapons, including knives, a garrote, and firecrackers.[150][151] The next day, NYPD detained another man who reportedly got angry after he wanted to meet Donald Trump at the tower, and threw a wine glass on the lobby floor.[152][153]

Architecture and location

The Gucci store in Trump Tower, located at the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 56th Street
The Gucci store in Trump Tower is at the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 56th Street.
Zoomed-out view of the Gucci store, showing a security blockade over 56th Street

Trump Tower is located at 721–725 Fifth Avenue in north Midtown, on the east side of Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets. The building's main entrance is on Fifth Avenue,[140] with a side entrance on 56th Street only for residents.[154] Above the main entrance is a logo with 34-inch-high (86 cm) brass capital letters in Stymie Extra Bold font,[155] which reads "TRUMP TOWER".[72] On the sidewalk opposite the main entrance, there is also a four-sided brown-and-beige clock, which was created by the Electric Time Company and is nearly 16 feet (4.9 m) tall.[156] Retail outlets include Gucci's flagship store at ground floor retail.[140] A Tiffany & Co. store is next door[140][157] in its own Art Deco building at 1 East 57th Street.[158] The tower is well-served by public transportation, being about 600 feet (180 m) from three New York City Subway stations: Fifth Avenue/53rd Street, Fifth Avenue–59th Street, and 57th Street–Sixth Avenue.[159]

The 58-story[24] Trump Tower is 664 feet (202 m) high, making it the 64th tallest building in New York City.[1][160] The top story is marked as "68" because, according to Trump, the five-story-tall public atrium occupied the height of 10 ordinary stories.[29][87][143] However, several Bloomberg L.P. writers later determined that Trump's calculations did not account for the fact the ceiling heights in Trump Tower were much taller than in comparable buildings, and the tower did not have any floors numbered 6–13.[105]

The tower is a reinforced concrete shear wall core structure. At the time of its completion, it was the tallest structure of its type in the world.[45] Trump Tower used 45,000 cubic yards (34,000 m3) of concrete and 3,800 tons of steelwork.[161]

The 28-sided structure, with a stepped facade, was intended to give the tower more window exposure.[13] A concrete hat-truss at the top of the building, similar to one used in the Trump World Tower,[162] ties exterior columns with the concrete core. This hat-truss increases the effective dimensions of the core to that of the building allowing the building to resist the overturning of lateral forces such as those caused by wind, minor earthquakes, and other impacts perpendicular to the building's height.[163]

The tower's public spaces are clad in 240 tons of Breccia Pernice, a pink white-veined marble.[161][164] Four gold-painted elevators transport visitors from the lobby to higher floors; a dedicated elevator leads directly to the penthouse where the Trump family lives.[164] Mirrors and brass are used throughout the well-furnished apartments and the kitchens are outfitted with "standard suburban" cabinets.[32] The building has thirteen office floors on levels 14 to 26, then another 39 condominium floors containing 263 condominiums on levels 30–68.[26] Trump later stated that he had placed the first residential floor on the level numbered 30 as part of a marketing strategy for all of his towers, and that he "did not see why he should be forced to call the first residential floor something mundane like the second floor, or even the 20th floor."[165] Many of the apartments are furnished,[164] but some of the upper-floor commercial spaces come unfurnished.[166]

The design extends to the office lobby, located off Fifth Avenue, and the five-level atrium, which features a 60-foot-high (18 m) internal waterfall along the eastern wall[167][168] that is spanned by a suspended walkway, shops, and cafes.[168] The atrium, legally a privately operated public space (POPS),[83]:141 is bedecked in marble, which has been described as "rosy and yellow," and is crowned with a skylight.[168] The atrium was originally supposed to be furnished with multiple 40-foot (12 m), 3,000-pound (1,400 kg) trees, which were transported at a cost of $75,000, but Trump, who supposedly did not like how the trees looked, personally cut them down after impatiently waiting for contractors to painstakingly remove them via a tunnel.[72][71] The atrium comprises the northern part of a two-block pedestrian plaza between Fifth and Madison Avenues, connecting to the atrium at 550 Madison Avenue (then the AT&T Building) to the south.[169] When the tower opened, the Fifth Avenue Association awarded the first-prize "mixed use building" award to the atrium,[45] marking the association's first award in five years.[170]

The tower has two outdoor terraces as part of Trump's agreement with the city during construction. There is a terrace on the fifth floor on the northern (57th Street) side of the building, with a smaller fourth-floor terrace on the southern (56th Street) side.[171][172] The fifth-floor north-side terrace has several trees and a fountain, while the fourth-floor south-side terrace has little more than a few granite benches.[171] There is also a passageway to a glass-roofed POPS at 590 Madison Avenue.[172]

Restaurants

The building contains four establishments for eating or drinking: Trump Bar,[173] Trump’s Ice Cream Parlor,[174] Trump Cafe,[175] and Trump Grill.[176] Of these, Trump Bar is the only establishment at the atrium level; the other three are located in the basement.[177]

The stepped facade of the building's base
The stepped corners are filled with trees.

Trump Grill was generally panned as gaudy-looking and the food bland-tasting. Vanity Fair called it a contender for "the worst restaurant in America," with different menus for different customers and "steakhouse classics doused with unnecessarily high-end ingredients."[178] Eater rated the food as "totally unadventuresome and predictable, though competently prepared, like food you might find in a country club."[177] New York magazine wrote that "despite what the sign reads, countless restaurants trump this spot."[179] In December 2016, Yelp reviews of Trump Grill averaged two-and-a-half out of five stars, while Google reviews averaged three of five stars.[180]

Eater reviewed the three other establishments as well, finding them to be commonplace compared to Trump Tower's stature. The ice cream was described as "almost too soft to be scooped," and the cafe contained food such as a "rubbery and overcooked" hamburger patty and some "inedible" steak fries. The reviewers at Eater also wrote that the bar offered a small, overpriced drink menu and snacks that "do little to affirm the luxury that the place aspires to."[177] Vice magazine also reviewed the bar and found it to be overpriced, with "a strong pour of watered-down vodka and a few Manzanilla olives" costing twenty dollars.[181] New York magazine, reviewing the cafe, found the food to be "safe classics" that contrasted with the cafe's grandeur.[182]

Political notability

In the 2012 presidential election, Republican nominee Mitt Romney earned over 50% of the vote in the precinct that included Trump Tower, one of two Manhattan voting precincts to do so (the other being the precinct that included the Waldorf Astoria New York hotel).[183] However, although Trump received 23 votes in the district during the 2016 Republican primary, signifying the most votes of any Republican candidate there, there were 67 votes for his opponent Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary.[184][185] In 2016, within the precinct that contained Trump Tower, 200 people voted for Clinton as opposed to 95 for Trump.[186]

Since the launch of Trump's presidential campaign in 2015, the number of visits to the tower had risen drastically, with many of the visitors being supporters of Trump's candidacy.[164] The tower gained popularity among New York City tourists in 2016, especially after Trump was elected president.[187] There are stores selling Trump merchandise in the atrium. During Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, the stores sold campaign memorabilia such as hats, with the proceeds going toward funding his campaign.[164] In 2017, the city ordered the removal of two unauthorized kiosks in Trump Tower selling Trump's merchandise.[188]

Uses

The NBC television show The Apprentice was filmed in Trump Tower, on the fifth floor, in a fully functional television studio. The set of The Apprentice included the famous boardroom, which was prominently featured in the television show, where at least one person was fired at the end of each episode.[189] Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., founded in 2015, is headquartered within part of the space where The Apprentice was filmed; unlike the former boardroom, the headquarters is unfurnished, with some offices containing "only drywall and no door."[166] After Trump's successful election in 2016, he indicated that Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., would remain in Trump Tower to organize his 2020 re-election campaign.[190]

Tenants

Donald Trump, his wife Melania, and their son Barron maintain a three-story residence on the penthouse floors.[164][191] Until 2017, the tower was their main residence,[192][193][194] among the family's other homes at Mar-a-Lago in Florida; Seven Springs in Bedford, New York; and part of an estate in Charlottesville, Virginia.[194] Since January 2017, Trump lives primarily at the White House.[195] Melania and Barron lived in Trump Tower until June 2017, when they moved into the White House.[196] Barron is reported to live on his own floor.[197] Before Trump became president, his offices were located on the 26th floor,[87] and he had a private elevator between the penthouse and his office.[192] In an 1984 article in GQ magazine, Trump's then-wife Ivana said that the first floor of the penthouse had the living, dining, and entertainment rooms and kitchen; the second had a balcony over the living room as well as their bedrooms and bathrooms; and the third contained bedrooms for the children, maids, and guests.[89] Angelo Donghia provided the original black-and-white, brass-and-mahogany design for the penthouse,[198] which was later replaced with a gold-and-Greek-column design after Trump reportedly saw the more lavish house of Saudi businessman Adnan Khashoggi.[192]

Noted soccer organizations and players have rented space or lived in Trump Tower. CONCACAF, the governing body of association football in North and Central America and the Caribbean, occupies the entire 17th floor.[199] Chuck Blazer, the former president of CONCACAF, used to live in two apartments on the 49th floor. One of these apartments, a $6,000-per-month suite, was occupied mainly by his cats, while Blazer lived in an adjoining $18,000-per-month apartment.[105][199][200] The apartments and office space were described as part of an "extravagant" lifestyle that ultimately resulted in Blazer being apprehended and becoming an FBI informant in a corruption investigation against association soccer organizations worldwide, including CONCACAF and FIFA.[200] Another noted soccer figure living in Trump Tower is José Maria Marin, former president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, who is currently under house arrest in his apartment for FIFA-related corruption charges.[105][191] As well, Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo bought an $18.5 million apartment in the tower in August 2015[201][202] and planned to buy another $23 million apartment in 2016.[203]

Other residents include former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who lived in the tower when he was Trump's campaign manager;[191] art dealer Hillel "Helly" Nahmad,[191] who bought a second apartment in the tower in July 2010;[204] pharmaceutical entrepreneur Stewart Rahr,[105] who has a corporate space on the 24th floor;[205][206] Juan Beckmann Vidal, the owner of tequila brand Jose Cuervo;[105][191] Prince Mutaib bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, who reportedly lives on an entire floor in the tower;[207] and actor Bruce Willis, who bought a $4.26 million apartment in 2007 from one of Trump's opponents.[208] Additionally, Qatar Airways, owned by the Qatari government, has had a corporate campus in the tower since at least 2008,[207] a fact that news media outlets noted when one of Trump's executive orders, EO 13769, banned immigration from seven majority-Muslim Middle Eastern countries, but not from Qatar.[209][210]

Past tenants include Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, the ex-president of Haiti who died in 2014,[211] who was discovered to have lived in a $2 million apartment on the 54th floor in 1989, when public records in Haiti showed that he had forgotten to pay his bills.[212] The singer Michael Jackson rented an apartment on the 63rd floor during the 1990s.[213] The composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, known for musicals such as Cats, moved out of his 59th and 60th floor apartment in 2010 after 17 years of stating his intention to do so.[214][215] Carlos Peralta, a billionaire businessman from Mexico,[105] sold an apartment in Trump Tower in 2009 for $13.5 million.[216] In addition, Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.'s headquarters were on the fifth floor.[193][164] Trump's parents, Fred and Mary, had a second home on the 63rd floor they sometimes used when visiting Manhattan.[217]

In February 2017, the United States Department of Defense announced it was looking to lease space in Trump Tower, to house "personnel and equipment" dedicated to protecting President Trump.[218] This followed precedents where the DOD bought space in other presidents' properties, but the difference in this case was that the DOD's plan would directly profit Trump's business holdings.[219][220] Later that month, a controversial Indiegogo campaign launched to house refugees in Trump Tower in response to EO 13769, which barred nationals of several majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States before being superseded by EO 13780.[221][222]

Critical reception

The waterfall in the atrium, described as gaudy by a Frommer's review[223]

Fodor's New York City 2010 described Trump Tower's "ostentatious atrium" as an example of the "unbridled luxury" of the 1980s, characterized by "expensive boutiques and gaudy brass everywhere."[224]:123 The tower's public atrium, along with that of Citigroup Center a few blocks away, was described as a convenient public area.[224]:533

Frommer's called the tower a "bold and brassy place" whose golden sign "practically screams 'Look at me!'", with more evidence of the tower's gaudiness provided by its spacious atrium, pink-marble waterfall, and interior mall.[223] Meanwhile, Insight Guides' 2016 edition recommended Trump Tower as an example of the "opulence synonymous with Manhattan in the 1980s." The tower's atrium and waterfall was described as distinguishable for those who watched The Apprentice.[225]

In a 1982 review of the building, New York Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger contrasted the "reflective" Trump Tower with the nearby postmodern 550 Madison Avenue building.[226] In a later review just before the tower opened, Goldberger said that the tower was "turning out to be a much more positive addition to the cityscape than the architectural oddsmakers would have had it," and that the indoor atrium might become "the most pleasant interior public space to be completed in New York in some years." However, he criticized the "hyperactive" exterior of the tower, contrasting it with Tiffany's "serene," solid facade next door, as well as the narrowness of passageways within the atrium, saying that it created "little room for milling or casual strolling."[227]

Before the atrium opened, Ada Louise Huxtable, an architectural critic for the New York Times, said that the building was a "dramatically handsome structure."[72] However, she reversed her opinion on the opening of the atrium, saying that the tower was really a "monumentally undistinguished one" and commenting that her earlier comments were taken out of context.[228] Huxtable also called the atrium a "pink-marble maelstrom" and publicly requested in one of her editorials that Trump remove one of her quotes from his building's lobby.[228] Another writer for that newspaper described the tower in 1984 as "preposterously lavish" and "showy, even pretentious."[229] Architect Gregory Stanford described the atrium as "pretty horrible."[230] By contrast, a review from 1983 had predicted that it could be New York City's "most pleasant interior public space" to be built in recent history.[168]

The fifth edition of the AIA Guide to New York City, published in 2010, described Trump Tower as a "fantasyland for the affluent shopper" hidden by "folded glass," with the Trump theme evident throughout the building. Comparing the building's interior design to alcoholic drink brands, the authors wrote that the design was less like a high-end "Veuve Clicquot" and more like a generic "malt liquor."[231]

In popular culture

Trump Tower served as the location for Wayne Enterprises in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises.[232] In a 2012 vlog post, comprising one of the few movie reviews on the Trump Organization's YouTube channel, Trump referred to the movie as "really terrific" and that "most importantly Trump Tower—my building—plays a role."[233]

Trump Tower, a romance novel by Jeffrey Robinson, chronicles the sexual activities of fictional characters living in the tower.[234] News media reported on the novel's existence during the last week of the 2016 presidential campaign.[235][236] The novel was never formally published[236] but is registered as having an International Standard Book Number.[234] For unknown reasons,[236] some versions of the novel are advertised with Trump as the author.[235]

Trump Tower is featured on the cover of the 1997 video game Grand Theft Auto and is depicted in the 2008 sequel Grand Theft Auto IV.[237]

See also

References

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