Trump Spurned New York, but Here's How He's Still Tied to the City

President Donald Trump switched his residency to Florida, but his footprint in New York City remains large. (Pete Gamlen/The New York Times)
President Donald Trump switched his residency to Florida, but his footprint in New York City remains large. (Pete Gamlen/The New York Times)

He was the first New York City-born American president since Theodore Roosevelt, but as Donald Trump’s days at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. come to a close, his relationship with his hometown appears broken beyond repair.

Trump lost Manhattan to Hillary Clinton in a landslide, and again to Joe Biden — 72% of the president’s former neighbors voted for Biden this fall. Protests have erupted outside Trump Tower throughout his presidency. He has been lampooned ceaselessly on “Saturday Night Live,” which is filmed at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

He’s also the subject of two fraud investigations in New York: a criminal probe by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, and a civil inquiry by the state attorney general, Letitia James.

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Few places are more hostile to a famous native son.

“He is persona non grata in New York City,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in September, adding that, should the president return, he would need an “army” to walk down the streets.

But Trump, who announced on Twitter in 2019 that he had changed his official residency to Florida, still looms large — sometimes literally, his name in gold — over the city where he built his career. Here’s a look at his many ties to the New York region, and at some of the places where the prodigal president might soon return.

He could return to his tower …

Barack Obama embraces his Chicago ties, and Jimmy Carter famously reveres his peanut fields in Georgia, but few presidents’ identities are as inextricably linked with a place as Trump’s is with New York.

As he presided over the dining room at the storied 21 Club, brokered backroom real estate deals or fired people in a made-for-TV boardroom inside Trump Tower, the city served as the glittery vehicle via which he fashioned his scion persona.

Should he come back, there’s plenty of room in the penthouse of the black-and-gold tower. It spans the top three floors of the building, on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, and it is where Trump lived ensconced in Rococo style since the building’s completion in 1983, looking down from its uppermost tier at the city from what is called the 68th floor.

It’s actually the 58th floor, and much like he would later appear to exaggerate his own height by an inch, Trump falsely added 10 stories to the tower not only in its promotional materials, but according to its elevator buttons. Irritated that the nearby General Motors Building was 30 feet higher, Trump devised that the residential floors of the mixed-use tower would be listed as Level 30, even though there are just 19 floors of commercial space below them.

A return might be expensive. Though presidents are entitled to lifetime protection by the Secret Service, he might need additional security in New York City. Sgt. Edward Riley, a spokesperson for the Police Department, said it would be premature to comment on the potential cost to the city of any return.

The security detail will likely be less intense than when Trump visited the United Nations General Assembly in 2018. He required the protection of 200 Police Department officers working 12-hour shifts and a barrier of 50 dump trucks filled with sand around Trump Tower. When he was president-elect, each day spent in the city was projected to cost New York about $308,000, according to police estimates at the time.

… or go back to his roots.

Trump’s boyhood home is a modest Tudor-style house at 85-15 Wareham Place in the Jamaica Estates neighborhood of Queens. It was built in 1940 by his father, Fred C. Trump, who was a real estate developer. The president lived there until he was about 4 years old, when his family relocated to a grander home just behind that five-bedroom, brick-and-stucco house.

The first house was swept up by speculative buyers attempting to cash in on the presidential connection. It had sold for $782,500 in 2008, but was bought by an investor for $1.4 million just before Trump’s inauguration in 2017.

Three weeks later, the investor flipped it at auction for $2.14 million. The purchaser was anonymous, hidden behind a limited liability corporation called Trump Birth House. A person with knowledge of the deal at the time confirmed that a woman from China was the owner, but refused to reveal her name. Trump Birth House for a short time offered the home as an $815-a-night Airbnb rental. In the master bedroom, a plaque on the wall pointed out that this was where “President Donald J. Trump was likely conceived.”

Trump Birth House put the home up for auction in 2019, but it failed to sell. This month, Paramount Realty USA, which has represented it three times at auction, came up with a novel stunt: crowdfund the $3 million price and offer the house as a gift to the president.

“Love Trump?” the fundraiser, which kicked off Tuesday, read. “Thank President Trump by contributing to this campaign to buy his childhood home in his honor!”

Or he could go to some of his other towers …

After the resplendent White House, Trump might crave the “Virtuosity and Grandeur” offered at Trump World Tower at 845 United Nations Plaza, according to the website for the gleaming, black-glass edifice he completed in 2001 near the U.N. headquarters. Kellyanne Conway, a manager of his 2016 campaign and counselor to the president who left the administration last summer, at one point resided there with her husband, George, according a Twitter post by Conway.

Equally glittery at 1 Central Park West is Trump International Hotel & Tower New York, a mix of hotel and residential apartments. Trump Palace and Trump Park Avenue are not far off, on the Upper East Side.

The president can feel close to the trading floor as a civilian at 40 Wall St., The Trump Building, which at over 70 stories was briefly the tallest building in the city when it was finished in 1930 — no floor-fudging necessary.

If he wants Central Park views, he can find them at Trump Parc or Trump Parc East at the southern tip of the park.

… but probably not these towers.

In 1985, Trump bought a swath of abandoned rail yards alongside the Hudson River that he imagined would one day be his “Trump City” on the Upper West Side. Instead, he settled for something more modest, by Trump standards that is: He emblazoned “Trump” in gold on the six apartment towers he built there. Though he no longer owns the towers, the companies and condominiums boards that operate them had long contracted with the Trump Organization — the family’s business — to use the name.

He might not enjoy revisiting them: In February 2019, the last of the six towers voted to remove the name from their facades, an effort that began in 2016 to wipe Trump’s name from the corner of the island he once wanted to be his eponymous city.

Nor this hotel.

The former Trump SoHo might also be a sore spot: The hotel and residential building was renamed the Dominick in 2017. Faltering sales and prominent boycotts by people like LeBron James caused business to tumble, forcing the Trump Organization to reach a deal with the company that owned the building to excise the Trump name.

Perhaps he needs a change of scenery …

If Trump’s relationship with Manhattan is too fractious, he could consider becoming a Brooklynite. In Coney Island, the seven towers of Trump Village overlook the sea. (Though they bear the family name, they’re specifically named after the president’s father, who built the complex.)

And the president could always become a commuter: Trump Park Residences Yorktown is just north of the city, in Westchester County, and the complex has its own “shimmering lake,” according to the Trump Organization. Trump Tower City Center is in nearby White Plains, and Trump Plaza in New Rochelle.

But he might prefer his 212-acre family estate, Seven Springs, a 60-room mansion, also in Westchester.

Or not. The state attorney general’s investigation includes whether Trump fraudulently inflated the value of the estate (which he purchased for $7.5 million in 1995) when applying for a bank loan in 2014. At that time, the Trump Organization placed its value at $291 million.

… or some rest and relaxation.

According to the Golf News Network, Trump has played golf at least 302 times since taking office. He could continue his hobby in the Bronx, at his Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point.

If he’d like to take up something new, there are the two ice-skating rinks in Central Park that bear his name: Trump Wollman Rink and Trump Lasker Rink. But last year, the Trump Organization, which operates the city facilities as a concession, quietly moved to minimize the Trump name on signage after a dip in sales that was thought to be linked to New Yorkers’ distaste for the president.

He appears acutely aware of that distaste.

“I have been treated very badly by the political leaders of both the city and state,” Trump wrote on Twitter in October 2019. “Few have been treated worse.” At the same time, he reasserted his affection for the city where he found fame and fortune.

“I cherish New York, and the people of New York and always will,” he continued, before confirming that he had changed his residency to Florida.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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