Trump Plaza Imploded in Atlantic City

After seven years of standing vacant on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, the former Trump Plaza casino was finally demolished, toppling to the ground in about seven seconds.

At 9:08 a.m. on Wednesday, February 17, the former Trump Plaza casino in Atlantic City was detonated and toppled to the ground, to the cheers of spectators. By 9:09 a.m., the 38-story structure had disappeared from the city skyline, leaving an 80-foot pile of rubble and a cloud of dust.

The 39-story structure was former president Donald Trump’s first casino in Atlantic City. Per the Press of Atlantic City, it opened as Harrah’s at Trump Plaza in May 1984, with a 60,000-square-foot casino, 614 hotel rooms, seven restaurants a 750-seat showroom and health club. Later that year, the name was changed to Trump Plaza to avoid confusion with Harrah’s property in the city’s Marina District.

In 1986, Trump bought out Harrah’s and opened two more casinos, Trump Marina (now Golden Nugget Atlantic City) and Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort (now Hard Rock Hotel & Casino). In 2014, the casino organization went bankrupt and the real estate magnate left town.

For the next seven years, the building was unoccupied and unused. In 2020, Atlantic City officials filed an injunction in New Jersey Superior Court to speed the demolition of the Alan Lapidus-designed property, calling it an “imminent hazard” and threat to public safety, with chunks of concrete and stucco falling onto pedestrian pathways. The site where the casino stood is considered prime real estate in the shore town: located at center Boardwalk, at the foot of the major highway into the city.

“This is the best property in town,” said Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small in comments made after the implosion. “It needs no GPS. You just say, ‘Take the Atlantic City Expressway until it ends and you can’t go any further.'”

No plans have been announced for the tract’s future development. It will take months to clear the area, possibly until June, the start of the busy summer season. Small would prefer to see a family-friendly mixed-use development at the site rather than another casino.

The event was witnessed by hundreds of people who gathered on the beach, plus some who congregated in bars, along sidewalks, and at Bader Field, a former airport. People expressed mixed feelings about the implosion.

Ronald Rinker, who worked at Trump Plaza for 30 years as a bartender, told the Press, “I have a lot of great memories. It’s a part of history.”

Dani Summerson, another former Plaza employee who met her husband, Mark, at the casino, was also nostalgic. “I know a lot of people are happy it’s coming down, but for us, it’s sad,” she said.

Other onlookers, like Gina Wasik, felt differently. “I’m glad to see it go,” she told “Anything that’s got (Trump’s) name on it has to go.”

And Mike Lopez, a local blogger known as AC Mike, said he was “just blown away, so exciting to watch it go down and be a part of it. Our skyline has changed forever. It’s not what it was. Hopefully it gets better.”