VIDEO: Trump Plaza reduced to pile of rubble in Atlantic City, New Jersey

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Trump Plaza implosion: Former casino reduced to pile of rubble
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On a cold and crisp Wednesday morning in Atlantic City, the tower of the former Trump Plaza casino and hotel imploded into chucks of rubble.

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- On a cold and crisp Wednesday morning in Atlantic City, the tower of the former Trump Plaza casino and hotel imploded into chunks of rubble.

The 34-story tower and symbolic monument to former President Donald Trump's influence in the city folded like a deck of cards shortly after 9 a.m.

WATCH: Multiple views of the Trump Plaza implosion

City officials said while the implosion was successful, a small safety issued delayed things momentarily.

"There was a drone being flown above Caesars and, as we know, it was a temporary no-fly zone," said Mayor Marty Small at a press conference that immediately followed the implosion.

The remainder of the Plaza is scheduled for demolition at a later date.

Officials have now turned their attention to clean up at the site, as well as plans for the future of the piece of prime real estate.

City officials said they hope the majority of the rubble, which currently stands about eight stories, will be gone by June; it is a critical deadline as tourists begin to visit.

Chopper 6 video of the Trump Plaza implosion

The building's owner, Carl Icahn, has not announced plans for the location, but city officials said conversations with Icahn Enterprises are in the works.

"When does oceanfront, center city become available? It just doesn't really happen. So we get one chance to get this right," Small said.

For spectators, one of the best views was provided by One Atlantic Events.

Ten winners of a city-sponsored auction that benefited the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City were provided a window view of the event.

One of the winners was a man dressed in a hard hat, orange jumpsuit, and fake dynamite who calls himself "Implosion Man."

His real name is Louis Woloszyn and he's been to more than a dozen implosion events.

"I believe this is my swan song though," Woloszyn said.

During what could have been his final appearance as the character, he also brought a check for the Boys and Girls Club.

"I want to make sure the money goes to the right place," Woloszyn said.

In total, nearly $200,000 was raised for the nonprofit, including $175,000 from Carl Icahn himself after putting a stop to the initial fundraiser to allow someone to push the detonate button.

While that didn't happen, over safety concerns, there was still a celebration.

"This is a historic moment. We all here will remember this forever," Small said.

The Plaza used to market itself as "Atlantic City's centerpiece."

"The way we put Trump Plaza and the city of Atlantic City on the map for the whole world was really incredible," said Bernie Dillon, the events manager for the casino from 1984 to 1991. "Everyone from Hulk Hogan to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, it was the whole gamut of personalities. One night before a Tyson fight I stopped dead in my tracks and looked about four rows in as the place was filling up, and there were two guys leaning in close and having a private conversation: Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty."

To complete the implosion, demolition crews positioned explosives at strategic points along the building's support structures designed to knock its legs out from under it, bringing the building down on itself, with the debris falling in a slightly north-northeast direction, Fire Chief Scott Evans said.

SEE ALSO: The final hours of the Trump Plaza Casino

Though the former president built it, the building is now owned by a different billionaire, Icahn, who acquired the two remaining Trump casinos in 2016 from the last of their many bankruptcies.

Mayor Marty Small proposed using the demolition as a fundraiser for the Boys And Girls Club of Atlantic City, and began an auction for the right to press the button that would bring the structure down.

But Icahn - a donor and former special economic adviser to Trump - objected on safety and liability issues, and got the auction house to halt the bids. Icahn said he would replace the $175,000 that had already been bid with his own money.

Opened in 1984, when Trump was a real estate developer in his pre-politics days, Trump Plaza was for a time the most successful casino in Atlantic City. It was the place to be when mega-events such as a Mike Tyson boxing match or a Rolling Stones concert was held next door in Boardwalk Hall.

Ron Gatewood, a food and beverage worker at Trump Plaza from 1986 until its closing in 2014, brought food and drinks to stars including Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross and Barry White in their hotel rooms.

"They were very down-to-earth people," Gatewood recalled. "They never made you feel less-than. They tipped very well. Well, some did, anyway."

The casino even had a cameo in the film "Ocean's Eleven." When George Clooney and Brad Pitt recruited actor Bernie Mac's character to help with a Las Vegas casino heist, they plucked him from Trump Plaza, where he was a dealer.

Bob McDevitt, president of the main casino workers' union, said the place oozed glamor and buzz when it first opened.

"When there was a Tyson fight, it was like New Year's Eve all over the city, massive traffic jams," he said.

But things began to sour for Trump Plaza when Donald Trump opened the nearby Trump Taj Mahal in 1990, with crushing debt loads that led the company to pour most of its resources - and cash - into the shiny new hotel and casino.

"The moment that the Taj Mahal opened up, it began a decline for the Plaza," McDevitt said. "In order to make sure the Taj Mahal was successful, they shipped all the high rollers from Trump Plaza and Trump's Castle to the Taj, and they really didn't invest in the Plaza much."

The Trump Taj Mahal, one of the casinos acquired by Icahn, has since reopened under new ownership as the Hard Rock.

Trump Plaza was the last of four Atlantic City casinos to close in 2014, victims of an oversaturated casino market both in the New Jersey city and in the larger northeast. There were 12 casinos at the start of 2014; there now are nine.

By the time it closed, Trump Plaza was the poorest-performing casino in Atlantic City, taking in as much money from gamblers in 8 1/2 months as the market-leading Borgata did every two weeks.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.