Trump Tower

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Trump Tower
View from Fifth Avenue
General information
Status Complete
Type Retail, office, and residential
Location 721 Fifth Avenue
New York, 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
Construction started 1979
Completed 1983
Opening November 30, 1983; 33 years ago (1983-11-30)
Owner Donald Trump
Management Trump Organization
Roof 202 m (664 ft)[1]
Technical details
Floor count 58 actual stories; top story is numbered 68[2]
Design and construction
Architect Der Scutt; Poor, Swanke, Hayden & Connell
Developer Donald Trump
Structural engineer Irwin Cantor

Trump Tower is a 58-story mixed-use skyscraper located on Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Trump Tower serves as the headquarters for The Trump Organization and houses the primary penthouse condominium residence of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

Designed by Der Scutt of Poor, Swanke, Hayden & Connell and developed by Trump and the Equitable Life Assurance Company (renamed the AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company in 2004), the building broke ground in 1979, with the atrium, apartments, offices, and stores opening on a staggered schedule from February to November 1983.



Designed by Der Scutt, the Trump Tower was constructed on the site of the former Bonwit Teller flagship store, an architecturally renowned building that was built in 1929.[3] The building was bought by Trump in 1979,[4][5] with the intention of building the city's "first super-luxury high-rise".[5] The Trump Organization demolished the store at Fifth Avenue and 56th Street and erected the Trump Tower there.[3] HRH Construction was the contractor on the building.[6] Barbara Res, who had worked on some of Trump's other projects[7] and then worked as a consultant for Trump until 1996,[8] was the construction executive;[6][8] at the time, Res was one of the only women who had been assigned to oversee a major New York City construction site.[7][8]

Main entrance

The building is located in a special zoning district that spans Fifth Avenue between 38th and 58th Streets.[9] Ordinarily, a building of that height could not have been built on the small site. However, the building was approved partially because it was mixed-use, with retail, office, and residential units.[9] The Trump Organization also constructed a through-block arcade, connecting to IBM's 590 Madison Avenue tower to the east, and purchased the air rights from the Tiffany's flagship store next door for $5 million.[9] The tower's five-story atrium, which was designed as a "public space" under the city codes at the time, enabled the Trump Organization to build a taller tower, though the plans also stipulated that a landscaped terrace be built.[9] At the time, the building was the only skyscraper on Fifth Avenue with its own retail space.[9]

As originally planned, the tower would have 60 stories consisting of 13 office floors, 40 condominium floors, and 2 floors for mechanical uses, but this was later amended.[9] However, in the final plan, there were 26 office floors on the building's base, then another 39 condominium floors containing 270 condominiums on levels 30–68.[10] Originally, it was estimated that it would take $100 million to construct the tower.[9] When the tower eventually opened, it had 58 stories,[2] with the top story marked as "68" because the large public atrium occupies the height of 10 stories.[6][11]

Associated controversy

In 1979 (before construction had even begun) there was opposition to the construction of Trump Tower and other buildings in the area. The New York Committee for a Balanced Building Boom was concerned about the planned rezoning of the area that would arise due to the construction of high-rise towers along Fifth Avenue between 40th and 57th Streets.[12]

Analog clock in front of the Trump Tower

Trump had originally promised that the Bonwit Teller building's Art Deco exterior limestone bas-relief sculptures of semi-nude goddesses, as well as the massive ornate 15-by-25 foot grille above the store's entrance, would be removed and be donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.[3][13][14] The museum appraised the sculptures at over $200,000.[15] However, the sculptures ended up being 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][13] The building's decorative grille, supposedly transported to a New Jersey warehouse, was never recovered.[13] Instead the sculptures and grilles became scrap metal, and several days later, Trump stated that he had ordered the destruction himself.[14] Later in 1980, he boasted that the decor of his Grand Hyatt New York included "real art, not like the junk I destroyed at Bonwit Teller".[16] The New York Times condemned Trump's actions as "esthetic vandalism",[17] and a spokesman for Mayor Ed Koch said Trump had failed his "moral responsibility to consider the interests of the people of the city".[14] 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".[13] Robert Miller, the gallery owner who had appraised the pieces, lamented that such things would "never be made again", and Peter M. Warner, a researcher who worked across the street, called the destruction "regrettable".[18]

During the tower's construction, there were several other controversies related to the construction process. In one case, Trump sued a contractor for "total incompetence".[19] He was also involved in a disagreement with Mayor Koch about whether the tower should get a tax exemption.[19] In 1985, Trump was one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against 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 tax on the Trump Tower was upheld in a 4 to 1 decision.[20]

The jagged facade of the building's base

In 1983, a class-action lawsuit was filed against the Trump Organization, concerning unpaid labor union pension and medical obligations.[21] Trump testified in 1990 that 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.[22] Trump said that he rarely visited the demolition site[22] and never noticed the laborers, who were known as the "Polish Brigade" and who were visually distinct for their lack of hard hats.[23] A labor consultant and FBI informant testified that Trump was aware of the illegal workers' status.[22] In testimony, Trump stated that he and an executive used the pseudonym "John Baron" in some of his business dealings,[22] although Trump said that he did not do so until years after Trump Tower was constructed.[23] 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."[23]) The case went through several appeals and non-jury trials, and was at one point compared by a presiding judge to Jarndyce and Jarndyce, the seemingly unending case that forms the backbone of Charles Dickens' Bleak House.[21] The lawsuit was ultimately settled in 1999, with its records sealed.[23]

Trump was granted permission by the City of New York to build the top 20 stories of the building in exchange for operating the atrium as a public space, owned by the city. 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,[24] a lawyer speaking for Trump's organization stated in January 2016 that the kiosks would be removed in two to four weeks, prior to an expected court ruling.[25]

In 2015, journalist David Cay Johnston questioned the particular use of concrete and suggested there was a connection with organized crime.[26] In 2016, Barbara Res, the tower's construction executive, recalled that the construction workers at the site, who were predominantly male, would not let her enter the site because she was a female. When Res was eventually allowed to enter the construction site, she found that someone was constantly painting obscene graffiti of herself and Ivana Trump at the site, even after these graffiti were initially painted over.[7][8]

Opening and occupation

The Gucci store in the Trump Tower is at the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 56th Street.

The grand opening of the atrium and stores was held on February 14, 1983, with the apartments and offices following shortly thereafter. The forty ground floor stores in the tower were opened for business on November 30, 1983.[6] 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.[12] It remained as one of the Trump Tower's stores until 1990, when Bonwit Teller's parent company declared bankruptcy and closed the Trump Tower store.[4] Bonwit Teller was not the only store that departed from the Trump Tower location during this time; by 1986, between 15% and 20% of the tower's original stores had closed down 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.[27]

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,[11] attracting many rich and famous residents.[5]

In 2006, Forbes magazine valued the 300,000 square feet (28,000 m2) of office spaces 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.[28] As of 2013, that mortgage had risen to $100 million.[29]

Security issues

Demonstrators and security outside of the Trump Tower entrance

On August 9, 2016, a man posted a YouTube video that subsequently went viral, in which he said that he was an independent researcher wishing to speak to Donald Trump.[30][31] The next day, a man, suspected to be the same man who had posted the YouTube video, climbed the outside of Trump Tower from the 5th to the 21st floors.[32] The man was aid climbing using industrial suction cups.[31][32][33][34] During the incident, the police attempted to "safely isolate" the climber, breaking and removing windows to try to capture him.[35] After climbing for 2 hours and 45 minutes, he was apprehended by the NYPD Emergency Service Units (ESU) at the 21st floor of the tower.[32][34][35] The man identified himself as Stephen Rogata, a 20-year-old Virginia resident.[33][34][36] Rogata was arrested for endangerment and criminal trespassing and taken to Bellevue Hospital for psychiatric evaluation.[32][33][34]

Serious issues concerning safety and security in the building arose after Donald Trump was declared 45th President-elect of the United States on November 8, 2016.[37] The Trump Tower had served as a rallying point for the protests against Donald Trump in the days after the election's results were announced, thus requiring extra deployments of security officials.[38] The Federal Aviation Administration imposed a no-fly zone over Trump Tower until January 20, 2017,[39] and the NYPD spent $35 million to provide security to the tower, of which 20% of the costs would be repaid by Congress.[40] Street closures were imposed along the east side of Fifth Avenue and on the north side of 56th Street, with NYPD officers stopping and questioning pedestrians on these sidewalks as to their destinations. Customers to the Gucci and Tiffany's stores in the Trump Tower's lobby were allowed to proceed, while other pedestrians were redirected to the opposite side of the street.[41] The press nicknamed the now-heavily secured building White House North.[42] As a result of the heavy security, businesses around the tower had seen decreased patronage due to less foot traffic around the heavily secured area.[43]

Even so, despite the heavy security after the 2016 election, there have been some detentions and arrests that have been 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.[44] 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.[45][46] The next day, another man reportedly got angry after he wanted to meet Donald Trump at the tower, and after throwing a wine glass onto the floor of the tower's lobby, was subsequently detained by the NYPD.[47][48]


The 58-story[2] Trump Tower is the 64th tallest building in New York City, at 664 feet (202 m) high.[1][49] The tower, designed by Der Scutt of Poor, Swanke, Hayden & Connell, is a reinforced concrete, shear wall core structure and, at the time of its completion, was the tallest structure of its type in the city.[50] The 28-sided structure, with a jagged facade, was intended to give the tower more windows.[9] A concrete hat-truss at the top of the building, similar to one used in the Trump World Tower,[51] ties exterior columns with the concrete core. This increases the effective dimensions of the core to that of the building in order to resist the overturning of lateral forces such as wind, minor earthquakes, and impacts perpendicular to the building's height.[50]

View of Trump Tower atrium from a higher level

The building's main entrance is on Fifth Avenue, with a side entrance on 56th Street for "private use".[5] Its public spaces are clad in Breccia Pernice, a pink white-veined marble.[52] 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.[52] Mirrors and brass are used throughout, with the apartments well furnished and the kitchens outfitted with "standard suburban" cabinets.[7] This includes the office lobby, located off Fifth Avenue,[53] and the five-level atrium, which features a 60-foot-high (18 m) internal waterfall alongside the eastern wall spanned by a suspended walkway atop,[53][54] shops, cafés, and a pedestrian bridge that crosses over the waterfall's pool.[5][54] The atrium is bedecked in marble, which has been described as "rosy and yellow", and is crowned with a skylight.[54] Many of the apartments are well furnished,[52] but some of the upper-floor commercial spaces come unfurnished, such as Donald J. Trump for President Inc.'s headquarters on the fifth floor.[55]

There are stores selling Trump merchandise that are located in the atrium, some of which sell memorabilia for his 2016 presidential campaign; the proceeds from buying campaign merchandise, such as hats, went toward funding his campaign.[52] Since the launch of Trump's presidential campaign in 2015, the number of visits to the tower have risen drastically, with many of the visitors being supporters of Trump's candidacy.[52]

In a 1982 review of the building, a New York Times reporter contrasted the "reflective" Trump Tower with the nearby postmodern 550 Madison Avenue building then occupied by AT&T.[56] Although another writer described the tower as "preposterously lavish" and "showy, even pretentious", the atrium's design was well received, with one commenter saying that it was New York City's "most pleasant interior public space" to be built in recent history.[54]

Notable uses

View of Trump Tower atrium from its base

Trump Tower was the setting of the NBC television show The Apprentice, including the famous boardroom where at least one person was fired at the end of each episode. The boardroom, which was prominently featured in the television show, incorporates a fully functional television studio set inside Trump Tower.[5][57]

Notable tenants



Christmas tree in the Trump Tower atrium, December 2014

In popular culture

The Trump Tower served as the location for Wayne Enterprises in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises.[68] The tower also makes an appearance in The Wolf of Wall Street.[69]

Trump Tower, a romance novel by Jeffrey Robinson, chronicles the sexual activities of fictional characters living in the tower.[70] News media reported on the novel's existence during the last week of the 2016 presidential campaign.[71][72] The novel was never formally published[72] but is registered as having the ISBN 1-59315-735-5.[70] For unknown reasons,[72] some versions of the novel are advertised with Trump as the author.[71]

See also


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Further reading

External links