NEW YORK (AP) — His name is inscribed in the papers of this city, enshrined in its buildings and cobbled together for the unique confidence of a daring New Yorker. Now with Donald Trump to the place that brought him back on paper, the city he loved is poised to deliver his comeuppance.
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“I wanted to be in Manhattan. I loved Manhattan. It had a connection to Manhattan,” said Barbara Res, a longtime employee of the former president who was a vice president at the Trump Organization. “I don’t know what he got and I don’t know what he believes, but New York turned on him.”
None of Trump’s romances lasted longer than his engagement in New York. No other place can match that mix of display and barbarism. The love of the city’s ending is pretty Shakespearean, but Trump took it a step further, rising to the presidency only to become the country’s antihero.
Trump was born and raised in Queens to a real estate developer father whose plans were large in Queens and Brooklyn. But the younger Trump objected to crossing the East River and establishing his name in Manhattan. He got a foot in the door with his conversion of the rundown Commodore Hotel into the gorgeous Hyatt Grand and managed to make a name for himself by appearing alongside politicians and celebrities, popping up at Studio 54 and other hot spots and garnering near-constant media coverage.
Greed-is-good was a New York fixture of the 1980s. And in a city that prides itself as the center of the world, Trump saw himself as king.
“He grew up with great resentment toward others he thought had more fame, wealth, or popularity,” said David Greenberg, a Rutgers University professor who wrote “Republican Spin: A History of American Presidential Intrigue.” “Doing it in Manhattan — building Trump’s citadel and cracking the Manhattan social scene in the 1980s — meant a lot to him.”
The feeling was never really mutual, though. Trump’s trail of free bills, covered and everyday New Yorkers who saw through the shameless self-promotion.
He was a man of extraordinary talent, but in a city of 8 million his history was just another.
So for years Trump’s life continued here as the city revolved around him. Marriages came and went. Skyscrapers rose. Bankruptcy has been filed. The trumpet flashes and the fame of the superior slants.
He was never the typical New Yorker, crammed onto a subway train for the morning commute or polishing off a hot dog from a street vendor, but he remained a kind, if extraneous, presence to many.
That began with years of prodigious, racially-funny lies about Barack Obama’s birthday, and the time that the golden escalator descended on Trump Tower on June 16, 2015; to report to the president bidHe spewed vitriol against many in his country with little patience.
Rockefeller Center made him a weekly guest on “Saturday Night Live,” who had made fun of him, and elicited groans at the Waldorf-Astoria gala. In vast swaths of the city, distance for Trump has turned into hatred.
Even among Republicans, many saw him as as credible as a Gucci bag on Canal Street. Trump won the Republican primary, but failed to convince GOP voters in Manhattan.
“This is not a charlatan TV show anymore. People think this guy is really going to lead the country and the world in the wrong direction,” said Christina Greer, a political scientist at Fordham University.
On Election Night 2016, tears flowed at the Javits Center, where Hillary Clinton’s victory party never materialized, as Trump supporters lined up in a surprise parade across town in the Hilton ballroom. New York’s rebuke of its native son meant nothing. His face was projected onto the facade of the State Government Building for the residents to tell him that he was the president.
In the days that followed, a curious procession of politicians and celebrities marched to Trump Tower to meet the president-elect and after weeks of predictions about his presidency.
Among the musings of those watching included a glimpse of the president commuting between New York and Washington. When word emerged that his wife and young son would be moving into the White House immediately, it convinced Trump that he had never fully parted ways with the city.
But Trump continued to be Trump, his presidency yielded to one controversy and broken norm after another, and New York became the capital of the resistance, giving birth to constant mass protests.
He could no longer call the city of dreams home.
“New York has gone to hell,” he said as Election Day 2020 approached.
When the ballots were counted, Manhattan had seven times as many supporters of Joe Biden as those for Trump, and this time the Electoral College followed. When Trump’s presidency ended and he left Washington after inciting violent riots, it was clear that New York would be inhospitable.
Like a group of New Yorkers, he retired to Florida.
Now that he’s back up north, he’s spending most of his time at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey. The man who has long tried to avoid the bridge and the tunnel past, is again separated from the Manhattan river.
On his first return to Manhattan, after leaving the office, the New York Post reported that one person waited outside Trump Tower to see him. Even the rebels couldn’t be bothered with him anymore.
His outrage from New Yorkers intervened in a rite-of-passage for urban residents, the office of the judge, and, if the form of prior jurors agreed, a cross-section of quintessential Manhattan, from different neighborhoods, incomes and locations.
With word of Trump’s announcement now coming out, the story of his weak romance with New York takes on a sense of finality. Even the Post, part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire that helped Trump win the White House in the first place, left him. A paper that once headlined its affair with a screeching “Best Sex I Ever Had” headline featuring Trump’s smirking face last week called him a “serialist.” on the previous page where he was noted “Bat Hit Crazy” in big letters.
Trump once boasted that he could send someone down the middle of Fifth Avenue and remain popular. Today he could deliver over fifty in New York and still not win the support of most of the residents.
He dismissed the grand jury’s actions as a “scam” and “persecution” and denied that he had done anything wrong. Democrats, he says, are lying and cheating to hurt his campaign to get back into the White House.
Remaining outside the market, the show was largely closed to media groups. Among the few regular New Yorkers to make the trip was Marni Halasa, a figure skater dressed in a leopard print leotard, cat ears and wads of fake bills inserted into a “money forest” boa. She was the only one outside Friday celebrating one of her city’s most famous sons.
“New Yorkers are here at heart,” he said, “and I feel that I represent most of them.
Associated Press writer Bobby Cain Calvan contributed to this report.