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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The former Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino tower came down Wednesday morning, ridding the city of a derelict Boardwalk complex that was once part of former President Donald Trump's casino empire.
It took only seconds to fell the 34-story tower after a dozen dynamite blasts were triggered at 9:07 a.m., creating dust clouds blown by the winds toward the Atlantic Ocean.
Mayor Marty Small called it “exciting” and “truly a great day in Atlantic City.”
Crowds had gathered on the Boardwalk outside an exclusion zone, along nearby city streets or from their cars parked at Bader Field at the end of the Atlantic City Expressway.
For many, the implosion of the gutted tower symbolized the end of Trump’s time in this gambling resort town that saw it grow to four casino hotels and eventually fall to numerous financial setbacks, four bankruptcies and property sales.
Small has said Trump contributed to the early days of the city's casino industry, creating jobs while making a lot of money.
"But he was selfish, took advantage of some people, hurt some people ... and stiffed some," he added.
Vineland, New Jersey, residents Bill Cavallo and Dennis Campanella were among the first people at Bader Field Wednesday morning to witness implosion.
They arrived together shortly before 7 a.m. EST and secured a front-row parking spot along the water.
“Just a part of Atlantic City history, something cool to see,” said Cavallo, 50, who witnessed The Sands Atlantic City implosion in 2007 as well. “We got here early, have a good view and figure we’ll hit the casinos for a little bit after.”
For Campanella, Wednesday’s implosion marked a first for him.
“Never saw anything like this before,” Campanella, 51, said from the passenger seat of Cavallo’s Jeep Wrangler. “It’s Atlantic City. You come here so many times over the years and you get used to seeing these different buildings. I remember when Trump came through and built up Atlantic City.”
Trump, himself, played no role in Cavallo and Campanella’s desire to see the implosion.
“There’s nothing political at all about us being here,” Cavallo said while focusing a miniature telescope on his dashboard.
Sitting in “front row” seats in a nearby pier over the beach and Atlantic Ocean to view the tower’s destruction with city officials will be 10 sets of winners of a city-sponsored charity auction benefiting the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City.
Louis Woloszyn 59, of Philadelphia was raised in Berlin Borough. He came dressed as "Implosion Man," wearing a dynamite costume.
"I came for the spectacle, he said.
City Fire Chief Scott Evans explained that the triangular-shaped boardwalk entrance, a lower tower behind it and another lower building on the property were left in place to help contain implosion debris and prevent it from falling onto streets and Boardwalk. Other parts of the complex already have been demolished by wrecking balls and other equipment.
Stephanie Koch, CEO of the nonprofit boys and girls club said donations connected with the event topped $191,000 — $175,000 from Carl Icahn after he shut down an earlier charity auction plan to award someone the right to push the detonation button.
The Trump Plaza, the only casino Trump built from the ground up, operated for 30 years before closing in 2014. Icahn Enterprises, a major real estate developer, bought both the Trump Taj Mahal, which closed in 2016, Trump Plaza and the Trump Entertainment Resorts company.
Icahn never reopened nor sold Trump Plaza; the Taj was sold in 2018 and now carries the Hard Rock name.
Trump World's Fair Casino, formerly Playboy and then Atlantis, closed in 1999 and was torn down the following year after only a few years of operation on the Boardwalk.
Trump Marina, located off the Boardwalk and first called Trump Castle, is now the Golden Nugget.
At the height of casino-resort development here, the city had more than a dozen casinos. It now has nine and the mayor and other officials are eyeing family and non-gaming attractions to grow the city's appeal.
Icahn Enterprises has not announced a redevelopment or sale plan for the Plaza property between Columbia and Mississippi avenues, but Small said the city expect to meet with Icahn representatives in the future.
“This is going to be exciting. We have been waiting for this to come down for years. It’s a real eyesore,” said Elizabeth McGlinn, owner and operator of the glass-enclosed One Atlantic events venue at the far end of the former Caesar’s pier.
Carol Comegno loves telling stories about South Jersey history and our military veterans. Her book, “The Battleship USS New Jersey: From Birth to Berth” is the definitive history of the battleship. If you have a story to share, call her at 856-486-2473 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Cherry Hill Courier-Post: Watch: Trump Plaza Hotel implosion in Atlantic City signals end of era