Trump Tower, life as told by the people living in Trump’s skyscraper

Yesterday’s fire turned again the spotlight on the skyscraper owned by the 45th US president. We were wondering how it is to live inside it

trump tower
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At 7:20 am on the 8th of January 2018, 1:20 pm in Italy, a plume of smoke originating from the roof of Trump Tower rose above New York City. It seems that a short circuit of the air conditioning system – strained by the low temperatures of these days in the US- caused the fire. Luckily, it didn’t have serious consequences: 3 minor injuries, 70 fire-fighters involved, 1 tweet by the President’s son, Eric, who thanked the heroes who had rushed to the scene. And Trump? Fortunately, he wasn’t there. But it seemed like a good opportunity to ask ourselves: how is it to live in Trump Tower? Who have his tenants been (at least until he moved to Washington D.C.)? It is not for everybody to share corridors, lifts - and why not, the apartment block meeting! - with the most powerful man in the world, who owns, as he himself confirmed, the biggest nuclear button in the world.

Leaving irony aside, let’s start with some data: Trump Tower is one of the 57 skyscrapers built by the Trump Organization in the USA, Brazil, Panama, India, and Canada: a proper real-estate empire that made Trump the powerful man he is. Anyway, the building at 725, Fifth Avenue is the first concrete skyscraper in history,and it is the most famous for at least three reasons: it is the headquarters of Trump Organization, it was the set of The Apprentice reality show, and the Trumps lives here. And here is the kicker.

If you are wondering how tall it is the US president’s tower,the answer is very simple: according to official records 202.4 metres. When it comes to the number of floors, however, some problems do arise. The question is: why has Trump always said that he lived on the 68th floor, when the tower only has 58? It seems that the explanation – besides the tycoon’s tendency toward post-truth – may have something to do with the tricks some developers use to better sell flats in the higher floors. According to Trump, the little ten-storey touch-up is justified by the fact that the lower floors have “very high ceilings”. According to others, it all comes down to Trump building flats where he couldn't have.

At any rate, living in the Trump Tower means living in the 66th tallest building in New York, and in the 204th in the US. It was built from 1979 to 1982 and designed by Der Scutt from Poor, Swanke, Hayden & Connell Architects. At the origin of the skyscraper is an original sin: to build it, Trump tore down the Bonwit Teller department store, without even waiting for the two weeks the MoMa had asked for to preserve the store’s Art Deco statues and friezes. The proverbial sensitivity of developers!

But who are the residents of Trump Tower? The president lives in the three top floors (his home is designed by Angelo Donghia in Louis XIV style), but who are the others? Mostly investors who rent out the flats and foreign tycoons. The Italian national Francesco Costa, the president of Spring, in an interview with Corriere della Sera gave a view from inside.

Among other things, Costa explained that all the employees of the tower are immigrants (in spite of the president’s political visions) and that most flats are small pied-à-terre, second homes where even opening a window is hard; Trump’s election gave everyone a hard time, not only because the flats’ real estate value has fallen – according to him – by 20/25%, but also because of the logistical hassles that followed, like the controls at the entrance: “going back home is like going to the airport”.

As for the presidential couple: “he is never here, but actually it is easier”. And the first lady wants lifts and corridors to be completely empty when she uses them.

In fact, the time before the couple moved to the White House wasn’t easy: everyone lived among swarms of bodyguards, and Secret Service agents were at every corner. Another Italian, Guido Lombardi, a real estate developer who lives in Trump Tower and was involved in the pro-Trump campaign in the social networks, told nymag.com that after the election, the mayor closed the street, which perturbed the lives of many people. It wasn’t that bad for Lombardi though, who lives on the 63rd floor, in flat full of gold, silver, and velvets (but the tower also includes architectural masterpieces, like the flat on the 56th floor designed by Cini Boeri).

A problem were also the protests in front of Trump Tower: but some people don’t care, like a Columbia University professor who by now enjoys the dogs smelling her car as she unloads her grocery bags, or the armed guards protecting her from screaming demonstrators: they make her feel important. And there are those like the carpet designer James Tufenkian, who is frightened by the collapse of the prices of the flats and is ashamed to admit to living in Trump Tower, or fears to say anything negative about the president in the lift. Francesco Costa specifies that the few American tenants are the fiercest opponents of the president, and after the election they did everything possible to leave.

But selling is not so easy. In 2006, Forbes Magazine evaluated Trump Tower 318 million dollars. It is hard to say how much a flat is worth now, after the crisis and the changes Trump imposed on residents. One thing’s for sure, those who live in Trump Tower can enjoy a luxury hall with a waterfall where they may “relax” (always in a spy-movie atmosphere) seating at the Trump Grill, the Trump Café, or the Trump Bar. And may run the pleasant risk of meeting some of the VIP tenants. Among those who have lived or are currently living here are the late Michael Jackson, Steven Spielberg, Cristiano Ronaldo, Madonna, and our own beloved Sofia Loren.

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