It was not the biggest or the best implosion ever.
An auction for the right to detonate the dynamite to begin the implosion of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., fizzled.
Front-row seats to view this morning’s spectacle were sold on the cheap.
Onlookers in cars hoping to witness the symbolic finale of the former president’s casino empire in the seaside resort city were charged $10 and herded into a lot most recently used as a pandemic-era food distribution site.
The implosion of what was once the premier gaming destination in Atlantic City came less than a month after its best-known former owner, Donald Trump, left the White House after losing re-election and became the first president in history to be impeached twice.
The tower came down shortly after 9 a.m. amid a huge cloud of dust and an eruption of cheers.
“It’s an end of a not-so-great era,” said Jennifer Owen, 50, who bid $575 to win a front-row seat at a V.I.P. breakfast in an oceanfront pavilion with a direct view of the implosion.
Ms. Owen, who lived in Atlantic City for decades before moving two years ago to Rochester, N.Y., said she was not a fan of Mr. Trump and was eager to say goodbye to the skyscraper that once bore his name.
Refer someone to The Times.
They’ll enjoy our special rate of $1 a week.
“It’s symbolic for sure,” she said. “Him. Everything ending.”
LOOK: The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City is demolished. The hotel has been closed since 2014 pic.twitter.com/qniUzxp8Nk
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) February 17, 2021
Roy Foster, president of the Atlantic and Cape May Counties Central Labor Council, said the event was bittersweet.
“It’s a good day. It’s a bad day,” he said. “A lot of us worked on that building.”
Trump Plaza was the first of three casinos Trump owned before his gambling businesses in Atlantic City cratered and went bankrupt for good, leaving a trail of unpaid contractors and suppliers — and a bad taste for the Trump brand in this struggling city of 38,000.
To detractors, including the Democratic mayor, Marty Small, today’s demolition was the vivid embodiment of a long-awaited end.
“This is not about President Trump, because, quite frankly, the people here in the great city of Atlantic City knew how the presidency was going to play out on a national stage because we’re one of the cities that knew him best,” Small said after the implosion.
As he campaigned for the Republican nomination for president in 2016, Trump frequently boasted about how he outwitted Wall Street lenders and rode the value of his name to riches in Atlantic City.
“The money I took out of there was incredible,” he once told an interviewer.
In fact, he used little of his own money, a New York Times investigation found, and he shifted personal debts to the casinos, leaving the burden of his failures on investors and others who had gambled on his success.
“His tenure here ended horribly,” Small said in an interview last month.
First opened in 1984, Trump Plaza became Atlantic City’s 10th casino and in its early days offered the promise of high rollers and the allure of marquee events, including heavyweight prize fights where ringside seats fetched $1,500 and attracted celebrities.
His casinos also generated tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue.
But after a series of bankruptcy filings, Trump cut ties with Trump Plaza in 2009, even though his name briefly continued to adorn the building.
It closed for good in 2014 and the billionaire investor Carl C. Icahn acquired it out of bankruptcy in 2016.
The ostentatious Trump Taj Mahal closed in 2016 and is now the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
The Trump Marina Hotel Casino closed a decade ago and is now the Golden Nugget.