After four years and $150M, the barricades come down around Trump Tower

February 11, 2021

Photo by Paul Sableman via Flickr cc

Photo by Paul Sableman via Flickr cc

What was once referred to as the Trump Tower “occupied zone” is back to being a normal stretch of Midtown. The barricades that surrounded the building for the past four+ years have finally been removed, both a logistical and perhaps symbolic end to the Trump presidency. In an email to Gothamist, NYPD Sergeant Edward Riley wrote, “In partnership with the United States Secret Service the decision was made to remove the barriers around Trump Tower.” As Patch recently reported, it’s cost $150 million over the years to secure the area surrounding the building.

Though at first the federal government was reluctant to cover the city’s exorbitant costs of securing Trump Tower, they have thus far reimbursed New York City for all expenses through September 2020. For the four years from Trump’s inauguration to the day he left office, the total bill was $150 million, reports Patch. This paid for increased, 24-hour NYPD presence around the building. When Trump visited his Trump Tower home, it cost the city $300,000 a day alone (though since changing his primary residence to Florida in 2019, his trips to NYC have been few and far between).

From the day Trump was elected, his home and political/business headquarters became the site of protests. There was even a plan to build a quarter-million pound, 200-foot-long sandbag wall across from Trump Tower, as well as a petition to rename this stretch of Fifth Avenue in honor of President Obama. Once the immediate shock wore off, the building became mainly a tourist attraction and a place New Yorkers avoided, but this past summer after the murder of George Floyd, it once again became a prominent protest location. In fact, in July, Mayor de Blasio helped paint a “Black Lives Matter” mural on the street outside Trump Tower.

In response to the mural, Donald Trump said it was “denigrating the luxury of Fifth Avenue.” He also, in the midst of the peaceful protests, notoriously said New York City was a lawless “ghost town” that had “gone to hell” and was an “anarchist jurisdiction.” After threatening to defund New York City, Governor Cuomo fired back: “Forget bodyguards, he better have an army if he thinks he’s gonna walk down the street in New York.”

But despite Trump’s relocation to Mar a Lago and his newfound disdain for New York City, the area surrounding Trump Tower has been somewhat of a fortress for four years. 56th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues has been fully closed to vehicular traffic this entire time, and cement barricades were installed outside the Fifth Avenue entrance.

Not only did this create a traffic nightmare, but surrounding businesses have estimated tens of millions of dollars in losses due to the situation. Employees of the Armani Ristorante, which is on the third floor of the Armani store at the opposite corner of 56th and Fifth, told the New York Post that they dubbed the building the “Black House.” Though they wouldn’t specifically comment on losses, sources told the Post that once the street shut down in 2016, their revenue dropped by 50 percent.

In anticipation of the return to normalcy, Rob Byrnes, president of the East Midtown Partnership, told the Wall Street Journal last month, “Eventually Trump Tower will become just another building in New York bearing the name Trump.”


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  1. B

    So can anyone tell me why Trump Towers is an issue? I guess I’m not sure about it. I think when Trump was president, the U.S was in pretty good shape, as it seemed to be when Obama was in the white house. I’m not sure why people have an issue with Trump and the Trump Towers, could u please explain? Oh, maybe it’s because the side walk was block and no illegal people could sleep there???