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Trump Tower

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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 is located in New York City
Trump Tower
Trump Tower is located in New York
Trump Tower
Trump Tower is located in the US
Trump Tower
Location within Manhattan
General information
Status Complete
Type Retail, office, and residential
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
Construction started 1979
Completed 1983
Opening November 30, 1983; 34 years ago (1983-11-30)
Owner Donald Trump, The Trump Organization
Management The Trump Organization
Height
Architectural 664 ft (202 m)[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, 664-foot-high (202 m) mixed-use skyscraper located 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 residences 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 reside, or have resided, in the building. The tower stands upon a plot where the flagship store of department-store chain Bonwit Teller was formerly located.

In 1979, construction of the building began, with a design by Der Scutt, of Poor, Swanke, Hayden & Connell, and development by Trump and the Equitable Life Assurance Company (renamed the AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company in 2004). 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.

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 surge 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.[3]:15 At the time, the lot was occupied by Bonwit Teller flagship store, an architecturally renowned building that was built in 1929.[4] The site was adjacent to the Tiffany's flagship store on 57th Street, which Trump considered to be the city's best real-estate property.[5] By the mid-1970s, Trump was seriously considering purchasing the Bonwit Teller building. Approximately twice every year, he contacted Bonwit Teller's parent company, Genesco, to inquire about whether they were willing to sell Bonwit Teller's flagship store. Genesco always declined Trump's offers, and according to Trump, "they thought I was kidding".[3]:15

In 1977, John Hanigan became the new chairman of Genesco.[6] Hanigan looked to sell off some assets to pay debts, and Trump approached him with an offer to buy the Bonwit Teller building.[3]:15–16 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.[7] At the time, the land was owned by the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States,[8] while Genesco had a long-term lease on the land, with 29 years remaining in the lease. If Trump were to buy the land, his tower's ownership could be transferred to Equitable in 2008, once the lease expired.[3]:22 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.[3]:22–23 Trump also bought the air rights around Tiffany's flagship store to prevent another developer from tearing down the store and building a taller building.[3]:23

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.[3]:23 In 1979, the New York Committee for a Balanced Building Boom had opposed the planned rezoning due to fears about Fifth Avenue's character being changed by the construction of skyscrapers.[9] 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.[3]:25 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",[10] 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 stated that Trump "turn[s] political connections into private profits at public expense".[3]:25

Construction

The Trump Organization closed Bonwit Teller's flagship store in May 1979,[11] and the store was demolished by 1980.[4] HRH Construction was hired as the contractor on the building.[3] Barbara Res, who had worked on some of Trump's other projects[12] and then worked as a consultant for Trump until 1996,[13] was the construction executive.[3][13] At the time, Res was the first woman who had been assigned to oversee a major New York City construction site.[12][13]

Der Scutt, the architect of Trump Tower, had also previously collaborated with Trump to develop Grand Hyatt New York and several other projects. He was hired in July 1978, a year before Trump had even bought the Bonwit Teller site. Scutt initially proposed a design similar to Boston's John Hancock Tower, but Trump objected strongly.[3]:28 The real-estate mogul preferred a tall building that was also very expensive; he once stated that "the marble in Trump Tower would cost more than the entire rent from one of my buildings in Brooklyn."[3]:29

The plot was located in a special zoning district that spans Fifth Avenue between 38th and 58th Streets.[14] 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.[14] 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.[14][15] 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.[14] In particular, Trump built an atrium of 15,000 square feet (1,400 m2) in exchange for building 20 extra stories to his tower.[15] At the time, the building was the only skyscraper on Fifth Avenue with its own retail space.[14]

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.[14] In the final plan, the 58-story building contained six floors for the atrium, then thirteen office floors on top of the atrium, and finally 39 condominium floors above the offices.[16][17] Originally, it was estimated that it would take $100 million to construct the tower.[14] The total cost ended up being around $200 million, which included $125 million in actual construction costs and $75 million in other expenditures such as insurance.[3]:16

When the tower eventually opened, it had 58 stories,[2] with the top story marked as "68" because, according to Trump, the five-story-tall public atrium occupies the height of 10 ordinary stories.[3][18][19] However, several Bloomberg L.P. writers determined that Trump's calculations did not account for the fact that the ceiling heights in Trump Tower were much taller than in comparable buildings. As a result of this miscalculation, the tower does not have any floors numbered 6–13.[20]

Associated controversies

View of the atrium from its base

Destruction of Bonwit Teller Building features

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.[4][21][22] The museum appraised the sculptures at over $200,000.[23]

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.[4][21] The Met's curator, Penelope Hunter-Stiebel, caught a cab to the building site and attempted to pay the workmen for the sculptures, but was rebuffed.[24] The building's decorative grille, supposedly transported to a New Jersey warehouse, was never recovered.[21] Instead the sculptures and grilles were scrapped, and several days later, Trump stated that he had ordered the destruction himself.[22] 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".[25]

The New York Times condemned Trump's actions as "esthetic vandalism",[26] and a spokesman for Mayor Ed Koch said Trump had failed his "moral responsibility to consider the interests of the people of the city".[22] 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".[21] 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".[27] However, Trump later said that he used the notoriety of that act to advertise more residential units in the tower.[25]

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.[28] Trump had paid $774,000 to a window-cleaning company that employed undocumented Polish immigrants in the renovation of an adjoining building.[29] According to the laborers, they were paid $4 an hour for 12-hour shifts, and they were not told about the asbestos in the under-construction structure.[29]

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.[30] Trump said that he rarely visited the demolition site[30] and never noticed the laborers, who were visually distinct for their lack of hard hats.[31] A labor consultant and FBI informant testified that Trump was aware of the illegal workers' status.[30] Trump testified that he and an executive used the pseudonym "John Baron" in some of his business dealings,[30] although Trump said that he did not do so until years after Trump Tower was constructed.[31] 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."[31]

After the laborers filed for a mechanic's lien over unpaid wages, they say a Trump Organization lawyer threatened to have the Immigration and Naturalization Service deport them.[29] A judge ruled in favor of the Polish laborers in 1991, saying that the organization had to pay the workers.[32] The contractor was ultimately ordered to pay the laborers $254,000.[29][33]

The case went through several appeals from both sides as well as non-jury trials, and was reassigned to different judges several times.[34][35] 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.[28] The lawsuit was ultimately settled in 1999, with its records sealed.[31] In November 2017, U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska ordered the settlement documents unsealed.[29] In the settlement, Trump agreed to pay a total of $1.375 million.[29] According to the plaintiffs' lawyer, Trump agreed to pay the full amount that could have recovered at trial.[29]

Other controversies

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".[36] He was also involved in a disagreement with Mayor Koch about whether the tower should get a tax exemption.[36][37] 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.[38][39] The tax on Trump Tower was upheld in a 4 to 1 decision.[40]

In May 1983, a glass windowpane fell from a crane that was installing windows on the tower, hitting two pedestrians.[41] One of these pedestrians later died after his skull was fractured.[42]

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 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,[43] 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.[44]

In 2015, journalist David Cay Johnston questioned the particular use of concrete and suggested there was a connection with organized crime.[45] 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."[46] 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.[47]

After opening

Occupancy

Clock in front of Trump Tower

Trump bought full-page advertisements in multiple newspapers and magazines to advertise his new tower.[3]:16 The first tenants included Asprey[48] and Ludwig Beck,[49] who moved into the building before its planned opening in early 1983.[50]:196–197 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-level stores in the tower were opened for business on November 30, 1983.[3] 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."[51]:117

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.[9] In addition, a wide variety of high-end outfits opened stores in the tower, including Buccellati, Charles Jourdan brands, Mondi, and Fila.[50]:197 Trump said in 1985 that there were more than 100 stores who wanted to move into a space in the tower.[38] Around this time, began describing the tower as "something of a New York landmark".[38]

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.[52] 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.[53]

The residential units were more successful, and 95% of the 263 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,[18] with the penthouse being sold for $15 million in 1985.[54] The tower attracted many rich and famous residents,[38] including Johnny Carson, David Merrick, Sophia Loren, and Steven Spielberg.[50]:197 At least one unidentified resident, who lived on the same floor as Johnny Carson, built a private swimming pool in their unit.[55] In total, Trump received $300 million from the sale of the condominiums, which more than offset the $200 million cost of construction.[50]:197 However, by 1991, Trump was already involved in lawsuits against residents: in October of that year, he successfully[56] sued actor Pia Zadora and her husband, businessman Meshulam Riklis, to collect $1 million in unpaid rent.[57]

The flagship Bonwit Teller store remained as one of Trump Tower's retail offerings until March 1990, when Bonwit Teller's parent company declared bankruptcy and closed the Trump Tower location.[58] 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 Galeries Lafayette's business to the United States while helping Trump pay off the debts incurred by the tower's construction and operation.[59] The new store opened in September 1991 after a $13.7 million renovation,[60] but was unprofitable upon opening, losing a net $3.6 million in the first year alone because it had only made $8.4 million in sales.[61] Galeries Lafayette announced that it would be closing the Trump Tower location in August 1994, less than three years after it opened, due to an inability to pay off the $8 million annual rent and taxes. However, critics cited other factors, including the decision to not include merchandise from top French designers as the company's French locations had done.[62]

The Galeries Lafayette store was then replaced with a Niketown location.[63] 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.[64] The Niketown store still remained in the tower as of the 2016 election with a lease in that location until 2022.[65] 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.[66] During and after the election, there were petitions to relocate the Niketown store, created by advocacy organizations who opposed Trump's election.[67][68]

Valuation

Main entrance

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.[69] As of 2013, that mortgage had risen to $100 million.[70] 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 within Trump's ownership.[20]

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,[71] which has a net floor area of 10,996 square feet (1,021.6 m2).[72]

Controversies

In March 2017, after Trump was elected president, he wrote several posts on Twitter[73] claiming that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped phones in the tower toward the end of the 2016 campaign.[74] An Obama spokesperson refuted the claims,[75] and during a subsequent conference 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.[76] 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.[77][78]

Trump also claimed to own the painting Two Sisters (On the Terrace),[79] an 1881 work by French Impressionist artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The original work hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago.[80] 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 located on Trump's plane. Trump repeatedly said that his copy was the genuine work, despite O'Brien's statements to the contrary.[79] By then, the Renoir copy was hanging in Trump's penthouse office,[79] and the Art Institute of Chicago released a statement refuting Trump's claim that his Renoir copy was the genuine one.[81][82][83]

Security issues

Demonstrators and security outside of Trump Tower's 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.[84][85] 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.[86] The man was aid climbing using industrial suction cups.[85][86][87][88] During the incident, the police attempted to "safely isolate" the climber, breaking and removing windows to try to capture him.[89] 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.[86][88][89] The man identified himself as Stephen Rogata, a 20-year-old Virginia resident.[87][88][90] Rogata was arrested for endangerment and criminal trespassing and taken to Bellevue Hospital for psychiatric evaluation.[86][87][88]

Serious issues concerning safety and security in the building arose after Donald Trump was declared as President-elect of the United States on November 8, 2016.[91] 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.[92][93] The Federal Aviation Administration imposed a no-fly zone over Trump Tower until January 20, 2017,[94] and the NYPD stated that it was projected to spend $35 million to provide security to the tower, of which $7 million would be repaid by Congress.[95] The NYPD later revised its estimate to $24 million.[96] 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.[97] The block of 56th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues was closed completely to vehicular traffic, but part of the street west of Madison Avenue was later reopened to allow local deliveries.[98] Customers to the Gucci and Tiffany's stores in Trump Tower's lobby were allowed to proceed, while other pedestrians were redirected to the opposite side of the street.[97] During presidential visits, dump trucks from the New York City Department of Sanitation were parked outside the tower to prevent car bombs.[99] The press nicknamed the now-heavily secured building White House North, comparing it to the White House's West Wing.[19][100][101]

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.[102] Protests around the tower subsided after his inauguration in January 2017,[103] and by summer 2017, the security measures around the tower had been loosened somewhat, owing to the fact that most security measures were implemented only when Trump was actually in the tower.[104] However, several businesses at the tower's base had closed by then because of a reduction in the number of customers.[104]

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.[105] 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.[106][107] 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.[108][109]

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,[97] with a side entrance on 56th Street for residents only.[110] Above the main entrance is a logo with 34-inch-high (86 cm) brass capital letters in a Stymie Extra Bold font,[111] which read "TRUMP TOWER".[38] Retail outlets include Gucci's flagship store at ground floor retail.[97] A Tiffany & Co. store is located next door[97][112] in its own Art Deco building at 1 East 57th Street.[113] 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.[114]

The 58-story[2] Trump Tower is 664 feet (202 m) high, making it the 64th tallest building in New York City.[1][115] The tower, designed by Der Scutt of Poor, Swanke, Hayden & Connell, 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.[3]:16[116] Trump Tower It uses 45,000 cubic yards (34,000 m3) of concrete, a 3,800-ton steelwork, and 240 tons of Italian breccia marble.[3]:17

The 28-sided structure, with a stepped facade, was intended to give the tower more window exposure.[14] A concrete hat-truss at the top of the building, similar to one used in the Trump World Tower,[117] ties exterior columns with the concrete core. This hat-truss increases the effective dimensions of the core to that of the building which allows 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.[116]

The tower's public spaces are clad in Breccia Pernice, a pink white-veined marble.[118] 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.[118] Mirrors and brass are used throughout the well-furnished apartments and the kitchens are outfitted with "standard suburban" cabinets.[12] The building contains thirteen office floors on levels 14 to 26, then another 39 condominium floors containing 263 condominiums on levels 30–68.[16][17] 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".[119] Many of the apartments are furnished,[118] but some of the upper-floor commercial spaces come unfurnished.[120]

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 alongside the eastern wall[121][122] that is spanned by a suspended walkway, shops, and cafes.[122] The atrium, legally a privately operated public space (POPS),[51]:141 is bedecked in marble, which has been described as "rosy and yellow", and is crowned with a skylight.[122] 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.[38][37] 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) immediately to the south.[123] When the tower opened, the Fifth Avenue Association awarded the first-prize "mixed use building" award to the atrium,[3]:16 marking the association's first award in five years.[124]

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.[125][126] 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.[125] There is also a passageway to a glass-roofed POPS at 590 Madison Avenue.[126]

Restaurants

The building contains four establishments for eating or drinking: Trump Bar,[127] Trump’s Ice Cream Parlor,[128] Trump Cafe,[129] and Trump Grill.[130] Of these, Trump Bar is the only establishment at the atrium level; the other three are located in the basement.[131]

Trump Grill was generally panned as gaudy-looking and 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".[132] Eater rated the food as "totally unadventuresome and predictable, though competently prepared, like food you might find in a country club".[131] New York magazine wrote that "despite what the sign reads, countless restaurants trump this spot".[133] 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.[134]

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".[131] 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.[135] New York magazine, reviewing the cafe, found the food to be "safe classics" that contrasted with the cafe's grandeur.[136]

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

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).[137] 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.[138][139] In 2016, within the precinct that contained Trump Tower, 200 people voted for Clinton as opposed to 95 for Trump.[140]

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.[118] The tower gained popularity among New York City tourists in 2016, especially after Trump was elected as U.S. president.[141] There are stores selling Trump merchandise that are located 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.[118] In 2017, the city ordered the removal of two unauthorized kiosks in Trump Tower that were selling Trump's merchandise.[142]

Uses

The NBC television show The Apprentice was filmed in Trump Tower, on the fifth floor. The set of The Apprentice included the famous boardroom where at least one person was fired at the end of each episode, which was prominently featured in the television show, incorporates a fully functional television studio set inside Trump Tower.[143] 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."[120] 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.[144]

Tenants

Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States; his wife Melania; and their son Barron maintain a three-story residence on the penthouse floors.[118][145] Until 2017, the tower was their main residence,[146][147][148] among the Trump family's other homes at Mar-a-Lago in Florida; Seven Springs in Bedford, New York; a part of an estate in Charlottesville, Virginia.[148] Since January 2017, Donald primarily lives in the White House.[149] Melania and Barron still lived in Trump Tower until June 2017, when they moved into the White House.[150] Barron is reported to live on his own floor.[151] Before Donald became president, his offices were located on the 26th floor,[18] and he had a private elevator between the penthouse and his office.[146] In an 1984 article in GQ magazine, Donald'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.[55] Angelo Donghia provided the original black-and-white, brass-and-magohany design for the penthouse,[152] which was later replaced with a gold-and-Greek-columns design after Trump reportedly saw the more lavish house of Saudi businessman Adnan Khashoggi.[146]

Noted soccer organizations and players have rented space or lived in Trump Tower. CONCACAF, the governing body of association football in North & Central America and the Caribbean, occupies the entire 17th floor.[153] Chuck Blazer, the former President of CONCACAF, used to live on 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.[20][153][154] 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 investigations against association soccer organizations worldwide, including against CONCACAF and FIFA.[154] 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.[20][145] Additionally, Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo bought an $18.5 million apartment in the tower in August 2015[155][156] and planned to buy another $23 million apartment in 2016.[157]

Other residents include former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who lived in the tower when he was Trump's campaign manager;[145] art dealer Hillel "Helly" Nahmad,[145] who bought a second apartment in the tower in July 2010;[158] pharmaceutical entrepreneur Stewart Rahr,[20] who has a corporate space on the 24th floor;[159][160] Juan Beckmann Vidal, the owner of tequila brand Jose Cuervo;[20][145] Prince Mutaib bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, who reportedly lives on an entire floor in the tower;[161] and actor Bruce Willis, who bought a $4.26 million apartment in 2007 from one of Trump's opponents.[162] Additionally, Qatar Airways, which is owned by the Qatari government, has had a corporate campus in the tower since at least 2008,[161] 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.[163][164]

Past tenants include Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, the ex-president of Haiti who died in 2014,[165] was discovered to have been living in a $2 million apartment on the 54th floor in 1989, when public records in Haiti showed that Duvalier had forgotten to pay his bills.[166] The singer Michael Jackson rented an apartment on the 63rd floor during the 1990s.[167] The composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, known for musicals such as Cats, moved out of his 59th- and 60-floor apartment in 2010 after 17 years of stating his intention to do so.[168][169] Carlos Peralta, a billionaire businessman from Mexico,[20] sold an apartment in Trump Tower in 2009 for $13.5 million.[170] In addition, Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.'s headquarters were on the fifth floor.[147][118] Trump's parents, Fred Trump and Mary Anne MacLeod Trump, had a secondary home on the 63rd floor that they sometimes used when visiting Manhattan.[171]

In February 2017, the United States Department of Defense announced that it was looking to lease space in Trump Tower, in order to house "personnel and equipment" dedicated toward protecting President Trump.[172] This followed precedents in which the DOD bought space in other presidents' properties, but the difference in this case was that the DOD's plan would directly profit President Trump's business holdings.[173][174] 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.[175][176]

Critical reception

The waterfall in the atrium, described as gaudy by a Frommer's review[177]

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".[178]:123 The tower's public atrium, along with that of Citigroup Center a few blocks away, was described as a convenient public area.[178]: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.[177] 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.[179]

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.[180] In a subsequent 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 to the "serene", solid facade of the Tiffany's next door, as well as the narrowness of passageways within the atrium, saying that it created "little room for milling or casual strolling".[181]

Before the atrium opened, Ada Louise Huxtable, an architectural critic for the New York Times, stated that the building was a "dramatically handsome structure".[38] However, she reversed her opinion upon the opening of the atrium, saying that the tower was really "monumentally undistinguished one" and commenting that her earlier comments were taken out of context.[182] 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.[182] Another writer for that newspaper described the tower in 1984 as "preposterously lavish" and "showy, even pretentious".[183] Architect Gregory Stanford described the atrium as "pretty horrible" in his opinion,[184] By contrast, a review in 2016 stated that it was New York City's "most pleasant interior public space" to be built in recent history.[122]

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".[185]

In popular culture

Trump Tower served as the location for Wayne Enterprises in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises.[186] 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."[187]

Trump Tower, a romance novel by Jeffrey Robinson, chronicles the sexual activities of fictional characters living in the tower.[188] News media reported on the novel's existence during the last week of the 2016 presidential campaign.[189][190] The novel was never formally published[190] but is registered as having an International Standard Book Number.[188] For unknown reasons,[190] some versions of the novel are advertised with Trump as the author.[189]

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.[191]

See also

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Further reading

External links