Following a series of protracted delays, the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino owned by the former US president in New Jersey was finally demolished on Thursday.
A crowd formed at the site of the Atlantic City venue, and many cheered as 3,000 sticks of dynamite were used to bring the building to the ground in just 20 seconds.
Originally, the plan was to hold an auction tying into the demolition work, with the highest bidder getting the chance to hit the big red detonator. However, that hope was quashed when Carl Icahn, a billionaire friend of Trump’s, handed a cease and desist order to Bodnar’s Auctions. He instead made a donation to the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City, the children’s charity originally set to benefit from the sale.
The auction was given the green light by the city’s mayor, Marty Small, who was watching on as the casino was demolished. He said:
“I got chills. This is a historic moment. It was exciting.”
The 32-storey building now lies in a pile of rubble standing eight storeys high on the famous Atlantic City boardwalk. Small expects the area to be cleared by June, and some of the concrete will be used by environmentalists in an artificial reef project off the coast of New Jersey.
And Then Muhammad Ali, Oprah Winfrey and Hulk Hogan Walk In…
There was much fanfare when the Trump Plaza opened its doors for the first time in 1984, with Atlantic City considered to be the east’s version of Las Vegas – at the time, a glamorous place oozing wealth and razzle dazzle.
Trump would lay on glitzy parties for his celebrity chums, while big boxing fights next door at the Boardwalk Hall would also attract a star-studded crowd – as remembered by the casino’s former events manager Bernie Dillon. He recalls:
“The way we put Trump Plaza and the city of Atlantic City on the map for the whole world was really incredible.
“Everyone from Hulk Hogan to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, it was the whole gamut of personalities. One night before a Tyson fight I stopped dead in my tracks and looked about four rows in as the place was filling up, and there were two guys leaning in close and having a private conversation: Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty.
“It was like that a lot: You had Madonna and Sean Penn walking in, Barbra Streisand and Don Johnson, Muhammad Ali would be there, Oprah sitting with Donald ringside.”
For those first couple of decades, Trump Plaza was the most successful city in the resort – a fact that the former president played on when talking up his hopes of landing a job at the White House.
However, like many of Trump’s business investments, things would eventually turn sour and the casino filed for bankruptcy in 2004 – not the first of his game houses to suffer that fate.
A decade later, the Trump Plaza closed its door for the final time as footfall got so low that it took the casino eight months to make the same amount of money that neighbouring Borgata made in just two weeks.
Today, there are no casinos left that bear the Trump name. Two of his last remaining properties changed their names after his successful presidential bid, so the industry is unlikely to ever see a Trump property open its doors again.