New York

Gay Ghosts III: Last Address

"With LGBT youth and transgender adult women of color as their primary targets, and the piers along the Hudson River on the west side of the neighborhood identified as ground zero, residents complained that their neighborhood had been taken over by outsiders whose threatening activities promised to bring down the so-called quality of life of the neighborhood. The primary stages for their accusations were the monthly hearings of the local community board and police precinct community council, city-sponsored mechanisms for neighborhood-based decision making. Overwhelmingly, residents and business owners demanded more policing and changes in land use policy under the auspices of securing safety. The key tools they hoped to wield were the retention of a curfew at the neighborhood’s waterfront, as well as the heightened enforcement of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s quality-of-life policies that target offenses such as public drinking, noise, and loitering. Access to public space and quality-of-life regulations thus became the focal point for political response, and counter-activists representing nonresident LGBT youth of color attended community board hearings and police precinct community councils demanding that they too should be eligible to give input and that their safety was also at stake.

The Christopher Street Patrol gained supporters among residents, officials, and some lesbian and gay activists despite the fact that the group’s position appears contradicted by what was then popular policy wisdom on the beneficial effects of the social tolerance associated with gay populations. The Gay Index, based in the research of demographer Gary Gates, was, by the start of the 2000s, a measure celebrated by city agencies from Washington, D.C., to Oakland, California, because it was highly touted as predictive of the regional success of high-tech industries. This argument had been publicized by the urbanist and policy consultant Richard Florida, who contended that a concentration of gay men—and, to a lesser degree, lesbians—reflects a region’s social 'tolerance,' which he considered to be a draw factor for the creative class of workers at the center of the (then) 'new economy.' In this formulation, gay space is, thus, an index of economic competitiveness in a global marketplace for business location. This understanding of gay space is just one held by Gay Index proponents; another is that gay people tend to live in neighborhoods with dilapidated housing stock and high crime rates. As Gates explains: 'It could be that gay and lesbian people are less risk averse. They’ve already taken the risk of coming out of the closet, so it could be that they’re willing to take more risk in other dimensions of their lives as well.' But what are the risks associated with these areas—physical violence or speculative investment? For many, housing location is not based in choice, and same-sex activity is not correlated with being out as gay. Can those deemed to be at risk—an epidemiological category that often includes those who are young and poor, or who are homeless, or who do not identify as gay when practicing same-sex sex—bank (quite literally) on these same risks?" [1]

"The 'canaries of the creative age' to which the title of this chapter refers, are, according to Gates and Florida, gay populations whose survival in urban regions is cast as an indicator of the 'last frontier' of social tolerance and diversity and the promise of a successful economy. Although for Florida acceptance of gays represents the far reaches of tolerance and diversity, his curious definition of the latter is absent of people of color. As Florida observes when describing the Composite Diversity Index of which the Gay Index is a part (together with the Melting Pot Index and the Bohemian Index), 'the diversity picture does not include African-Americans and other nonwhites.' He continues: 'My research identifies a troubling negative statistical correlation between concentrations of high-tech firms and the percentage of the nonwhite population.' Thus the vision of the Christopher Street Patrol, which primarily targets people of color in Greenwich Village, is not counter to the ideals of popular urban planning after all. As the saying goes, birds of a feather flock together, and some 'canaries' are understood to be guarantors of demise. The complaints made by residents demonstrate the contradictions of contemporary urban politics, in which one can celebrate diversity and cast tolerance as a new investment strategy at the same time as one assails those very features by naming the acceptance of people of color, transgender women, and people of low income as 'liabilities' of a neighborhood best known for its gay populations and bohemianism.

These are the contradictions at the core of neoliberalism. Since the 1970s, many of the central terms put forth by postwar urban reformers have been promoted by neoliberal city programs through a deft reworking of the ideals of community, participation, and safety in the service of initiatives set to dismantle Keynesian-infuenced New Deal and Great Society programs in favor of those guided by distilled free market values. Neoliberalism has reshaped U.S. cities like New York and San Francisco in ways that foster hyper-segregation and exploitation: the privatization of public services, corporate tax breaks, attacks on tenant protections, the expiration of mandates for low- and middle-income housing, public subsidies for private market-value construction, and the mass expansion of security forces are but a few of its policies. The skyrocketing values of real estate in urban cores means that almost all new claims to these neighborhoods are property investments and acts of racial dispossession. Indeed, the profits and punishments of these policies have been doled out along stark racial and class lines, and it is this very disproportionate impact that neoliberalism, as a set of ideological imperatives, has worked hard to elide. Yet the approach to identity and economy taken by the liberalism associated with earlier political and economic orders, such as that of the Great Society, is part of this historical trajectory. The focus on the individualized psychology of prejudice, the ideal of blindness to difference, and the goal of equality were part and parcel of the postwar liberal consensus outlined by Gunnar Myrdal that would set the stage for discussions about inequality that followed. As Jodi Melamed argues, ideas of 'race as culture,' the individually reparative rather than structurally transformative features of antiracism, and the devaluation of economic justice took form in postwar racial liberalism but continued to evolve in what she dubs the emergence of 'neoliberal multiculturalism.' Thus, in today’s cities, marginalized identities can function as markers of cultural value (as in the commodity known as lifestyle) but cannot be considered as vectors of exploitation." [1]

"Key to the gentrification mentality is the replacement of complex realities with simplistic ones. Mixed neighborhoods become homogenous. Mixed neighborhoods create public simultaneous thinking, many perspectives converging on the same moment at the same time, in front of each other. Many languages, many cultures, many racial and class experiences take place on the same block, in the same buildings. Homogenous neighborhoods erase this dynamic, and are much more vulnerable to enforcement of conformity.
AIDS, which emerged as gentrification was underway, is an arena where simple answers to complex questions have ruled. 'Keep it simple' only works if you are an alcoholic who doesn't want to take another drink. In most other areas of life, complexity is where truth lies. AIDS has been bombarded by simplification since its beginning. The people who have it don't matter. It's their fault. It's over now. Easy to blame AIDS on the infected, and much more difficult to take in all of the social, economic, epidemiological, sexual, emotional, and political questions. Even treatments have turned out to be combination medications, not a single pill that just makes AIDS go away.
The relationship of gay men to gentrification is particularly interesting and complex. It is clear to me, although it's rarely stated, that the high rate of deaths from AIDS was one of a number of determining factors in the rapid gentrification of key neighborhoods of Manhattan. From the first years of the epidemic through to the epicenter of the AIDS crisis, people I knew were literally dying daily, weekly, regularly. Sometimes they left their apartments and went back to their hometowns to die because there was no medical support structure and their families would take them. Many, however, were abandoned by their families. Sometimes they were too sick to live alone or to pay their rent and left their apartments to die on friends' couches or in hospital corridors. Many died in their apartments. It was normal to hear that someone we knew had died and that their belongings were thrown out on the street. I remember once seeing the cartons of a lifetime collection of playbills in a dumpster in front of a tenement and I knew that it meant that another gay man had died of AIDS, his belongings dumped in the gutter." [2]

John Brockmeyer ,  Ethyl Eichelberger , 157 York St., Staten Island

John Brockmeyer, Ethyl Eichelberger, 157 York St., Staten Island

"While, of course, AIDS devastated a wealthy subculture of gay white males, many of the gay men who died of AIDS in my neighborhood were either from the neighborhood originally, and/or were risk-taking individuals living in oppositional subcultures, creating new ideas about sexuality, art, and social justice. They often paid a high financial price for being out of the closet and community oriented, and for pioneering new art ideas. Indeed, many significant figures in the history of AIDS, like iconic film theorist and West Village resident Vito Russo, died without health insurance. So the apartments they left were often at pre-gentrification rates, and were then subjected to dramatic increases or privatized.

In my own building, our neighbor in apartment 8, Jon Hetwar, a young dancer, died of AIDS after our tenants' association had won a four-year rent strike that resulted in across-the-board rent reductions. After his death, his apartment went from $305 per month to the market rate of $1,200 per month. This acceleration of the conversion process helped turn the East Village from an interracial enclave of immigrants, artists. and long-time residents to a destination location for wealthy diners and a drinking spot for Midtown and Wall Street businessmen. Avenue A went from the centerpiece of a Puerto Rican and Dominican neighborhood to the New York version of Bourbon Street in less than a decade. I similarly observed the West Village change from a longtime Italian and gay district with an active gay street life into a neighborhood dominated first by wealthy heterosexuals and then by movie stars, as new gay arrivals shifted to other parts of the city. Now you have to be Julianne Moore to live in the West Village. The remaining older gay population is so elite as to have an antagonistic relationship with the young Black and Latino gay men and lesbians and transgendered kids who socialize on the streets and piers of the West Village. Organizations like FIERCE (Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment) had to be formed to combat harassment of young gay kids of color by wealthy white West Villagers. Gay life is now expected to take place in private in the West Village, by people who are white, upper-class, and sexually discreet." [2]

"Strangely, this relationship between huge death rates in an epidemic caused by governmental and familial neglect, and the material process of gentrification is rarely recognized. Instead gentrification is blamed on gay people and artists who survived, not on those who caused their mass deaths. We all know about white gay men coming into poor ethnic neighborhoods and serving as economic 'shock troops,' buying and rehabbing properties, bringing in elite businesses and thereby driving out indigenous communities, causing homelessness and cultural erasure.

While the racism of many white gay men and their willingness to displace poor communities in order to create their own enclaves is historical fact, gentrification would not have been possible without tax incentives for luxury developers or without the lack of city-sponsored low-income housing. That the creation of economically independent gay development is seen as the “cause” of gentrification is an illusion. We need to apply simultaneous thinking to have a more truthful understanding of the role of white gay men in gentrification. It is true that like many white people, many white gay men had a colonial attitude towards communities of color. Yet at the same time, it is helpful to think about why white gay men left their neighborhoods and homes to recreate themselves in Black, Latino, Asian, and mixed neighborhoods. It seems clear that heterosexual dominance within every community does not aid and facilitate gay comfort, visibility, and autonomy. The desire to live in or to create gay enclaves was a consequence of oppression experiences. Only gay people who were able to access enough money to separate from their oppressive communities of origin were able to create visible, gay-friendly housing and commerce and achieve political power in a city driven by real estate development. This does not excuse or negate the racism or the consequences of that racism. And these observations in no way negate gays and Lesbians of color living successfully and unsuccessfully in Black, Latino, Asian, and mixed neighborhoods. But if all gays could live safely and openly in their communities of origin, and if government policies had been oriented towards protecting poor neighborhoods by rehabbing without displacement, then gentrification by white gay men would have been both unnecessary and impossible." [2]

Coney Island Baby

"His taste is all right, but it is sometimes overwhelmed by his sense of publicity. He will become less and less glitzy. He'll listen to me."
     - Philip Johnson, "The Expanding Empire of Donald Trump", The New York Times, April 8, 1984

"'Oh, he lies a great deal,' says Philip Johnson with a laugh. 'But it's sheer exuberance, exaggeration. It's never about anything important. He's straight as an arrow in his business dealings.'"
     - Philip Johnson, "The Expanding Empire of Donald Trump", The New York Times, April 8, 1984

"HE made his presence known on the island of Manhattan in the mid 70's, a brash Adonis from the outer boroughs bent on placing his imprint on the golden rock. Donald John Trump exhibited a flair for self-promotion, grandiose schemes - and, perhaps not surprisingly, for provoking fury along the way.

Senior realty titans scoffed, believing that braggadocio was the sum and substance of the blond, blue-eyed, six-footer who wore maroon suits and matching loafers, frequented Elaine's and Regine's in the company of fashion models, and was not abashed to take his armed bodyguard-chauffeur into a meeting with an investment banker.

The essence of entrepreneurial capitalism, real estate is a business with a tradition of high-rolling megalomania, of master builders striving to erect monuments to their visions. It is also typically dynastic, with businesses being transmitted from fathers to sons and grandsons, and carried on by siblings. In New York, the names of Tishman, Lefrak, Rudin, Fisher, Zeckendorf come to mind.

And now there is Trump, a name that has in the last few years become an internationally recognized symbol of New York City as mecca for the world's super rich.

‘Not many sons have been able to escape their fathers,’ said Donald Trump, the president of the Trump Organization, by way of interpreting his accomplishments. Three of them, built since 1976, stand out amidst the crowded midtown landscape: the 68-story Trump Tower, with its six-story Atrium housing some of the world's most elegant stores; the 1,400- room Grand Hyatt Hotel, and Trump Plaza, a $125 million cooperative apartment. And more is on the way.

‘At 37, no one has done more than I in the last seven years,’ Mr. Trump asserted."

Fifteen years ago, he joined his father's business, an empire of middle-class apartment houses in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island then worth roughly $40 million. Today, the Trump Organization controls assets worth about $1 billion.

The largest and most striking properties were developed by the younger Trump and are owned by him individually or with one non-family partner. While his father, Fred C. Trump, is the company chairman and oversees the original holdings, the Trump Organization is unquestionably a Donald Trump extravaganza.

"HE makes that clear. At Trump headquarters on the 26th floor of the Trump Tower astride Fifth Avenue, he opened the door of a room furnished with a vast table.

‘This was supposed to be a board room but what was the sense when there's only one member,’ said Donald Trump. ‘We changed it to a conference room.’

Mr. Trump assiduously cultivates a more conservative public image now, a gentleman of taste in a navy- blue suit with discreetly striped shirts and blue ties, who weekends with his family in Greenwich, Conn. Last spring he forsook the Hamptons, his former habitat, to buy an estate in the conservative community.

His pastor, the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale of New York, avowed that he is ‘kindly and courteous in certain business negotiations and has a profound streak of honest humility.’

But Mr. Trump prides himself on being street smart and boasted that Brooklyn and Queens, where he was raised, are among ‘the toughest, smartest places in the world.’ Mr. Trump prefers the vocabulary of war and sports to document his exploits, acknowledging ‘I don't like to lose.’ Nor does he like to receive less than full credit for his victories.

‘He was a pretty rough fellow when he was small,’ recalled his father, who packed off his obstreperous teen-age son to the New York Military Academy in Cornwall-on-Hudson for his high school education. According to some of his peers in the industry, Donald Trump has not really changed much from those boyhood days.

His alternating skills of charming some individuals and riding roughshod over others has earned Donald Trump a reputation in some quarters as someone not to be trusted. He reneged, for example, on a promise to donate to a museum the Art Deco bas-reliefs on the facade of Bonwit Teller's - bulldozed to make way for Trump Tower. It was a sin deemed unforgivable by landmark preservationists. But the only negative comments about Donald Trump these days are given off the record.

‘Donald Trump became a controversial person and it worked for him,’ said the 57-year-old Preston Robert Tisch, president of the Loew's Corporation, and Mr. Trump's opponent on two bitterly contested real estate projects in New York - now a good friend.

‘He is one hell of a salesman,’ noted Francis L. Bryant, Jr., senior vice president of Manufacturers Hanover Trust, which extended the construction loans for the Grand Hyatt Hotel and for Trump Plaza, and the tenant financing for the cooperative apartment and the Trump Tower condominium."

"UNLIKE other real estate czars, notably the septuagenarian Harry Helmsley, ubiquitous in the city's development of office buildings, apartment houses and hotels, Mr. Trump does not syndicate his deals.

‘I don't have to,’ he stated flatly.

Backed initially by his father, Mr. Trump has operated as a lone wolf in Manhattan for nearly the last decade. He acquires properties through Trump Enterprises or Wembly Realty Inc. and has them transferred to Donald J. Trump so that he can personally take the huge tax write- offs from real estate projects rather than having them ‘wasted,’ as he called it, on a corporation. He also said he saves corporate and franchise taxes.

But to protect himself against the great risks in the building trade, he said, ‘I’ve bought tremendous liability insurance. After $10 million, it's cheap. You can get million of dollars of insurance for $500 in premiums.’

For major deals, he forges a partnership with a single gilt-edged financial institution or hotel chain. Holiday Inns, for example, is his co-venturer in the $200 million Harrah's hotel casino scheduled to open in Atlantic City next May, the largest gaming palace in the New Jersey resort.

‘It will be the biggest hit yet,’ he predicted. Benefiting from his successful track record, Mr. Trump was able to obtain a 50 percent share of the equity in Harrah's in return for a small investment in land, which he purchased before the referendum that opened the down-at-the-heels town to gaming - one example of his good timing, or good fortune.

The most striking evidence of Mr. Trump's entrepreneurship, however, is in New York.

There is the Grand Hyatt Hotel, reconstituted with a facade of mirrored glass on the skeleton of the Commodore Hotel adjoining Grand Central Terminal. Since it opened in 1980, it has been credited with reversing the deterioration of East 42d Street.

Then, of course, Trump Tower, a skinny bronze and glass skyscraper at 725 Fifth Avenue, atop the former site of Bonwit Teller at the corner of 56th Street. Its Atrium, a vertical shopping mall rendered in peach marble and bronze with an 80-foot cascade, is a showcase for 40 purveyors of super luxury wares such as Loewe of Madrid, Asprey's of London and the jewelers, Cartier, Harry Winston and Buccellati. Purchasers of condominium apartments - 91 are priced above $1 million - will start moving in later this month.

And Trump Plaza, the apartment building at Third Avenue and 61st Street, is scheduled for occupancy in 1984. Its least expensive unit is a three-and-one-half room apartment for $255,000.

Three years ago Mr. Trump bought the Barbizon Plaza Hotel on Central Park South and an adjacent rent-controlled apartment building at the corner of the Avenue of the Americas. According to Standard Abstract Corporation, publishers of daily realty reports, he paid about $13 million for this prime property to which sources now give a market value of $124 million.

Last June he offered to shelter the homeless in some of the vacant apartments - at least until he succeeded in getting the rest of the tenants to vacate theirs. He is reportedly about to sell the hotel to foreign investors.


Other plans are aborning. Mr. Trump is now concluding a deal to develop another site on the East Side, on the same scale as Trump Tower, in partnership with another leading financial institution.

Donald Trump thus appears to have followed the classic formula of the venture capitalist, using leverage and luck, and a third element peculiar to real estate development, namely location. ‘I have the best diamonds in the city of New York as far as location,’ he boasted.

To this formula, Mr. Trump has also added salesmanship, show business - and timing, riding the real estate boom of the last few years in spectacular fashion.

The Trump Organization, an umbrella for more than a dozen entities engaged in real estate and hotel development and management, consists of 45 key employees. Three are executive vice presidents: Louise M. Sunshine, who turned a formidable talent for raising millions of dollars in political campaign contributions into a skill at selling million-dollar apartments; Donald's 34-year-old brother, Robert, now supervising the hotel casino project in Atlantic City, N.J., and Donald's Austrian-Czech wife, Ivana, 30 years old, a former model and Olympic skier, who is in charge of design.

The secretaries address Mr, Trump by his first name. ‘Very little gets on paper around here. Donald does the work of 50 people in his head,’ said Mrs. Sunshine. He ‘never stops envisioning,’ she added.

A promotional slide show for Trump Tower describes it as ‘the ultimate vision of an elegant life seen through a golden eye.’ Flashes of model room settings appear amid scenes of Manhattan's glamorous restaurants, museums and theaters, while in the background the voice of Frank Sinatra belts out ‘New York, New York.’ The vision is Donald Trump's, though the word's are Sinatra's: ‘A No. 1 - king of the hill.’

The message is a clarion call to wealthy outsiders - foreigners or Americans from beyond the Hudson. The doormen's scarlet uniforms and white pith helmets - or high black fur hats in the winter months - evoke Buckingham Palace. Ivana Trump had them custom made in London.

In the lobby of the atrium a musician in black tie performs at a pink piano. ‘We try to give people a little show,’ said Mrs. Trump, a slender blond woman with aquamarine eyes. Her model's figure was sheathed in a white-and-black polka-dotted dress by Galanos. ‘The atrium is flashy but warm,’ she declared."

"The roots of the Trump Organization lie deep in the foundations of New York politics. Fred Trump, for instance, was closely involved with the Brooklyn Democratic organization which produced a New York Mayor, Abraham D. Beame, and a New York Governor, Hugh L. Carey, as well as lesser officials of strategic influence who were in power when Donald Trump mounted his invasion of Manhattan in 1974 and 1975, a low point in the city's economic history.

The tax abatement and other concessions he secured from government agencies were termed by Trump critics as both ‘outrageous,’ and ‘sweetheart deals’ - presumably awarded as political favors.

In the mid-70's, when plans were being laid for a New York City Convention Center, Mr. Trump began lobbying for a site in the West 30's, the vacant railroad yards of the bankrupt Penn Central on which he had secured an option in exchange for the promise to develop the site. Mr. Tisch's group backed a site on West 44th Street.

Municipal and state officials responsible for funding the project eventually swung to his side, and Mr. Trump collected $880,000 in commissions and expenses on the Penn Central's sale of the property to the city for $12 million. But it still rankles him that his offer to build the center at a guaranteed price of $200 million and to waive his fee, if it were named after his family, was spurned.

The project, since undertaken by the New York State Urban Development Corporation, has been plagued by cost overruns of $125 million and is two years behind schedule. Mr. Trump's inability to resist saying ‘I told you so’ by offering to take charge of finishing the center without fee, resulted in a verbal shooting match with the chairman of the corporation."

"DURING this same period, Mr. Trump parlayed an option to buy another Penn Central property, the nearly defunct Commodore Hotel, into a renovation project that resulted in the Grand Hyatt Hotel. It was made financially plausible by a 40-year tax abatement from the city - the first ever granted to a commercial property. The original option cost Mr. Trump $500,000.

As a hotel operator and chairman of the New York Convention & Visitors Bureau, Mr. Tisch objected to the abatement on the grounds of unfair advantage.

In retrospect, Mr. Tisch said, it ‘was right in what it did for that section of the city.’ But, he added, that the $200,000-a-year rental the city receives in lieu of taxes from the Grand Hyatt is equivalent to the tax bill for a motel on Eighth Avenue.

Since that skirmish Mr. Tisch and Mr. Trump have become close friends. They also buried the hatchet over another issue: whether or not to permit casino gambling in New York State.

Mr. Trump was gung-ho, having envisioned the lobby of the Grand Hyatt converted to gaming. Mr. Tisch believes he won him over by proving that the construction of gambling resorts in the Catskills (already on the drawing board) would have siphoned convention business from New York City hotels, and so Mr. Trump joined him as co-chairman of a coalition against permissive legislation. A more likely reason for the Trump turnaround is that his political allies, Governor Carey and Attorney General Robert Abrams, had changed their minds from pro to con on gambling and the likelihood of getting enabling legislation from Albany appeared nil.

The complexity of the 42d Street hotel deal and his cool derring-do in pulling it together before his 30th birthday won him the grudging respect of adversaries, and more crucial to his future plans, of the major lenders in New York.

Mr. Trump took his option on the Commodore, for which he would ultimately pay $10 million, less $2 million from the sale of its furniture and equipment, to line up a partner in the Hyatt Corporation, which was looking for a New York link for its hotel chain. He would build it; Hyatt would manage it; they would be equal partners.

He then turned to George Peacock, senior vice president of the Equitable Life Assurance Society. They had previously not done business, but Mr. Peacock had once been his guest at a United States Open Tennis competition.

Concerned about the Grand Central area (several office buildings were in or on the verge of foreclosure, and the city itself was facing bankruptcy), the Equitable, along with the Bowery Savings Bank and several smaller banks, promised him $70 million in mortgages once the doors of the renovated hotel opened.

‘So I took this commitment, which was a statement with 100 stipulations, to the city,’ Mr. Trump recalled. One of those conditions was that the financing be predicated on obtaining a tax abatement. ‘I said, “I will build you this incredible, gorgeous, gleaming hotel. I will put people to work in the construction trades and save hotel jobs and the Grand Central area will come around.” So the city made the deal,’ he commented.

Since there was no statutory basis for tax relief to a private commercial developer, Mr. Trump offered to sell the hotel for $1 to the Urban Development Corporation and lease it back for 99 years at a modest rental in lieu of taxes which the Commodore could not pay. Meanwhile, he could use the agency's vast powers of condemnation to get rid of undesirable retail tenants on the lower levels.

With these pieces in place, he obtained a $70 million construction loan from Manufacturers Hanover. ‘It was a leap of faith,’ the bank's Mr. Bryant noted.

Mr. Trump acknowledged that he was at substantial risk. He could have lost $3 million in option money, architectural and legal fees. ‘It could have been a disaster,’ he said. His father, he added, had taken ‘a neutral position’ and the son had won medals making money on earlier deals. But still, Mr. Trump said of the potential for failure, ‘I would have been embarrassed.’

After construction was underway, in 1979, the city's economy picked up, hotel rates doubled and he changed his plans. Instead of a moderate, $38- a-night hostelry, he would build a super-convention hotel commanding rates of $90 a night or more.

‘The whole economics of the deal changed,’ he says. ‘I got another $30 million from the Chase Manhattan Bank, so when the time came for me to put up equity, the bottom line was so good, I didn't have to put up money. It was timing. In another year, I wouldn't have gotten the abatement and no one ever will again.’"

“‘THE Hyatt really got us acquainted with Donald and that led us to the next big one,’ said Mr. Peacock of Equitable. The insurance company owned the land under Bonwit Teller and would sell only if it could get an active participation in an exciting project.

In 1974, Donald Trump had hired Mrs. Sunshine, finance director of the Carey re-election campaign, to help him lobby for the convention center.

Mrs. Sunshine said her political interest has waned, though this doesn't mean the Trump Organization lacks Democratic political entree - Roy Cohn of Saxe, Bacon, Bolan & Manley, and the firm of Shea & Gould are its litigators - or that its resources are not available to proper candidates of either party. Donald Trump supported Ronald Reagan in 1980 and has been to the White House several times.

It was Mrs. Sunshine who introduced Mr. Trump in 1975 to her friend, Marilyn Evins, wife of David Evins, a major stockholder in Genesco, the owner of Bonwit's. Through Mr. Evins he ascertained that the cash-hungry conglomerate might be willing to sell Bonwit's lease, which had 29 years to run.

‘Donald was the only developer who made sense to us,’ Mr. Peacock said.

The Trump-Equitable Fifth Avenue Company was formed, an equal partnership. Equitable put in the fee. Mr. Trump contributed the lease, two small units he acquired on East 57th Street, and the air rights to Tiffany's on the corner, which he needed for a zoning change to build a high-rise apartment house. The Trump Organization is sales and managing agent for the building, and Mr. Trump was able to put the family name over the four-story portal in colossal bronze letters - and two giant bronze Ts in the atrium.

Chase Manhattan financed his $24 million purchases of the various leases and rights, and the bank also formed a syndicate for the $150 million construction loan.

Mr. Trump expected that Trump Tower would qualify for a residential tax abatement. But after construction started, the city denied the exemption, estimated to be worth $15 million to $20 million, claiming it was intended to encourage low- and middle-income housing - not the deluxe apartments of the Tower. The city is now appealing a State Supreme Court ruling in Mr. Trump's favor last June.

‘I don't need this one,’ he said, ‘but it's wrong to hold out the carrot and then say, “Trump is not going to get it.” My psyche can't take that.’

He can, thus, add another star to the honor badge of the venture capitalist: for putting up practically none of his own money for an increasingly valuable equity interest in one of New York's most valuable pieces of real estate.

Anticipated condominium revenues of $260 million (85 percent of the 263 apartments have been sold) have effectively paid off the construction loan, leaving Trump Tower unencumbered by mortgages. The partnership retains ownership of the retail space and the 13 floors of office space, not yet rented, that are sandwiched in between. This commercial portion of the building is projected to yield rentals of $28 million a year.

Numerous New York merchants and real estate brokers expressed doubts that the Atrium tenants will be able to meet the lofty rents of $150 to $400 a square foot or to pay such capital expenses as the $3.5 million Loewe invested in building its three-level store. To cover the $1 million rent Charles Jourdan is paying for the first year, the store must sell $10 millIon in shoes and apparel.

Tenants do not know yet what the common charges or the real estate taxes will be. Such pass-on charges could possibly equal the basic rents, a broker said, predicting numerous lawsuits over interpretations of the 10- and 20- year leases. ‘The merchants will bear the risk of Trump Tower,’ he said, ‘and Trump will have a chance to weed out the ones he doesn't want.’

‘I only want the best,’ Donald Trump said. Holding out for ‘the great names’ fueled rumors that he was having difficulty filling his Atrium, which opened last February, half rented. ‘I took a chance that they would sign when they saw the building worked,’ he said. He won his gamble, though he conceded he gave ‘a little better break’ to a few of the hesitant.

From the triplex atop Trump Tower that he and his wife will occupy in the fall with their two children (Mrs. Trump is expecting their third child), he will be able to survey the metropolitan region, including those areas from which he maneuvered his ‘escape’ from his father's business.

While still at the Wharton School, from which he received a bachelor's degree in 1968, Donald Trump put into practice what he said he learned ‘by osmosis’ from the senior Trump. He began purchasing ‘little real estate pieces in Philadelphia and fixing them up,’ he recalled.

After graduation, he joined his father in Brooklyn and kept on buying - properties in Virginia, Ohio, Nevada, and land in California. Sometimes, he built, too. He had an eye for good locations and good financing: ‘F.H.A. mortgages 40 years out, and 5 1/2 percent interest’ taken over from owners desperate to sell ‘so we didn't have to put up much cash,’ explained Donald Trump.

He refinanced some of his father's older projects, swapped some in tax- free exchanges and, recently, has been turning others into cooperatives. For most of the period since he entered business, real estate and general inflation were skyrocketing.

After five years of such successes, Donald Trump was poised for escape. Or as some wags put it: ‘To trump his father.’

According to Harry Levinson, a Boston-based business psychologist who has studied family businesses, ‘The core problem of the entrepreneur in the family business is the unresolved Oedipal problem, trying to beat the old man.’ This is particularly so where the father has been very successful.

‘The son feels so inadequate and unable to compete with the father that he works out compensatory behavior,’ Dr. Levinson says. ‘He goes to the opposite and blows himself up to deny his feeling of helplessness. Particularly with an entrepreneur who has to fight through so many things, this compensatory self-centeredness serves him well.’

A record of successes ‘has made it very easy to do deals,’ said Donald Trump. ‘People want to invest with you.’ Inevitably, he is compared with the late William Zeckendorf, whose monuments include the United Nations and the Kips Bay housing complex in New York City, Century City in Los Angeles and Place Ville Marie in Montreal. Acclaimed a genius, he was finally forced to file both corporate and personal bankruptcy.

‘I used him as a model in a sense,’ Donald Trump acknowledged. ‘He was a great visionary but he wasn't fiscally conservative. Having seen the way he went down taught me to be overly so.’

Said Mr. Bryant of Manufacturers Hanover Trust: ‘Mr. Trump appears to be a wild man. He is not. Zeckendorf was spread from coast to coast. Donald stays home. He sticks to what he knows.’

Mr. Trump has been selling the properties he accumulated on his post-college buying binge outside New York and is co-oping 3,000 units in Brooklyn and Queens.

‘We've built up a lot of cash,’ he said. Cash to use ‘not necessarily in this business - I'm not married to this business.’ Associates say he likes both the communications and the sports industry, and he admitted to being fascinated by ‘the merger game.’ He does not find the takeover of a company he considers mismanaged to be daunting.

After the Government legalized private ownership of gold on Jan. 1, 1975, he jumped in and bought heavily. An ounce was then selling for $185. ‘We sold in the range of $780, $790. We did very well. It's easier than the construction business.’ he said."

"A speck on the horizon is Trump Village in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, a middle-income residential complex that is Fred C. Trump's most visible monument. It was built in the 60's with Mitchell-Lama financing.

In an office at the rear of 600 Avenue Z, a six-story red brick apartment house that was formerly the headquarters of the Trump Organization, sits its chairman, Fred Trump. He has no intention of moving to Fifth Avenue. ‘I don't get involved,’ said the founding father, tall, reddish-haired and dapper at 77. ‘As you know, Donald has a competitive spirit and I don't want to compete with him.’

Mr. Trump manages the 25,000 units of housing that constitutes the empire he built, and he boasts about his son, Donald. ‘He amazes me. He's gone way beyond me, absolutely.’

Fred Trump was a prodigy. His mother had to sign his checks when he started building in 1923 because he was a minor. The impetus for his large-scale projects came after World War II with Federal financing.

He and his wife, Mary, raised three sons and two daughters in a spacious house in the Jamaica Estates section of Queens.

The Trump children were indoctrinated in the Protestant work ethic, loyalty to friends and employees, and in positive thinking, as promulgated by the family minister, Reverend Norman Vincent Peale. ‘The mind can overcome any obstacle,’ said Donald Trump. ‘I never think of the negative.’

During summers and free time, the boys worked at Trump construction sites or the rent collection offices. ‘Not your normal kid's vacations,’ noted Robert Trump, executive vice president of the Trump Organization.

The eldest son, Fred Jr., died a few years ago. Maryanne Trump Barry, the oldest daughter, is an assistant United States Attorney in Newark and a candidate for a Federal judgeship. Elizabeth Trump is a secretary at the Chase Manhattan Bank. ‘It's a man's family,’ she said, when asked why she and Maryanne were not in the real estate business."


It is Distinctly Possible to Stay Too Long at the Fair

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
— from "Late Fragment," Raymond Carver
There are unheralded tipping points, a certain number of times that we will unlock the front door of an apartment. At some point you were closer to the last time than you were to the first time, and you didn’t even know it. You didn’t know that each time you passed the threshold you were saying goodbye.
— from The Colossus of New York, Colson Whitehead

It is easy to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends. I can remember now, with a clarity that makes the nerves in the back of my neck constrict, when New York began for me, but I cannot lay my finger upon the moment it ended, can never cut through the ambiguities and second starts and broken resolves to the exact place on the page where the heroine is no longer as optimistic as she once was. When I first saw New York I was twenty, and it was summertime, and I got off a DC-7 at the old Idlewild temporary terminal in a new dress which had seemed very smart in Sacramento but seemed less smart already, even in the old Idlewild temporary terminal, and the warm air smelled of mildew and some instinct, programmed by all the movies I had ever seen and all the songs I had ever read about New York, informed me that it would never be quite the same again. In fact it never was. Some time later there was a song in the jukeboxes on the Upper East Side that went “but where is the schoolgirl who used to be me,” and if it was late enough at night I used to wonder that. I know now that almost everyone wonders something like that, sooner or later and no matter what he or she is doing, but one of the mixed blessings of being twenty and twenty-one and even twenty-three is the conviction that nothing like this, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, has ever happened to anyone before.

Of course it might have been some other city, had circumstances been different and the time been different and had I been different, might have been Paris or Chicago or even San Francisco, but because I am talking about myself I am talking here about New York. That first night I opened my window on the bus into town and watched for the skyline, but all I could see were the wastes of Queens and big signs that said MIDTOWN TUNNEL THIS LANE and then a flood of summer rain (even that seemed remarkable and exotic, for I had come out of the West where there was no summer rain), and for the next three days I sat wrapped in blankets in a hotel room air conditioned to 35 degrees and tried to get over a cold and a high fever. It did not occur to me to call a doctor, because I knew none, and although it did occur to me to call the desk and ask that the air conditioner be turned off, I never called, because I did not know how much to tip whoever might come—was anyone ever so young? I am here to tell you that someone was. All I could do during those years was talk long-distance to the boy I already knew I would never marry in the spring. I would stay in New York, I told him, just six months, and I could see the Brooklyn Bridge from my window. As it turned out the bridge was the Triborough, and I stayed eight years.

In retrospect it seems to me that those days before I knew the names of all the bridges were happier than the ones that came later, but perhaps you will see that as we go along. Part of what I want to tell you is what it is like to be young in New York, how six months can become eight years with the deceptive ease of a film dissolve, for that is how those years appear to me now, in a long sequence of sentimental dissolves and old-fashioned trick shots—the Seagram Building fountains dissolve into snowflakes, I enter a revolving door at twenty and come out a good deal older, and on a different street. But most particularly I want to explain to you, and in the process perhaps to myself, why I no longer live in New York. It is often said that New York is a city for only the very rich and the very poor. It is less often said that New York is also, at least for those of us who came there from somewhere else, a city only for the very young.

I remember once, one cold bright December evening in New York, suggesting a friend who complained of having been around too long that he come with me to a party where there would be, I assured him with the bright resourcefulness of twenty-three, “new faces.” He laughed literally until he choked, and I had to roll down the taxi window and hit him on the back. “New faces,” he said finally, “don’t tell me about new faces.” It seemed that the last time he had gone to a party where he had been promised “new faces,” there had been fifteen people in the room, and he had already slept with five of the women and owed money to all but two of the men. I laughed with him, but the first snow had just begun to fall and the big Christmas trees glittered yellow and white as far as I could see up Park Avenue and I had a new dress and it would be a long while before I would come to understand the particular moral of the story.

It would be a long while because, quite simply, I was in love with New York. I do not mean “love” in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again. I remember walking across Sixty-second Street one twilight that first spring, or the second spring, they were all alike for a while. I was late to meet someone but I stopped at Lexington Avenue and bought a peach and stood on the corner eating it and knew that I had come out out of the West and reached the mirage. I could taste the peach and feel the soft air blowing from a subway grating on my legs and I could smell lilac and garbage and expensive perfume and I knew that it would cost something sooner or later—because I did not belong there, did not come from there—but when you are twenty-two or twenty-three, you figure that later you will have a high emotional balance, and be able to pay whatever it costs. I still believed in possibilities then, still had the sense, so peculiar to New York, that something extraordinary would happen any minute, any day, any month. I was making only $65 or $70 then a week then (“Put yourself in Hattie Carnegie’s hands,” I was advised without the slightest trace of irony by an editor of the magazine for which I worked), so little money that some weeks I had to charge food at Bloomingdale’s gourmet shop in order to eat, a fact which went unmentioned in the letters I wrote to California. I never told my father that I needed money because then he would have sent it, and I would never know if I could do it by myself. At that time making a living seemed a game to me, with arbitrary but quite inflexible rules. And except on a certain kind of winter evening—six-thirty in the Seventies, say, already dark and bitter with a wind off the river, when I would be walking very fast toward a bus and would look in the bright windows of brownstones and see cooks working in clean kitchens and and imagine women lighting candles on the floor above and beautiful children being bathed on the floor above that—except on nights like those, I never felt poor; I had the feeling that if I needed money I could always get it. I could write a syndicated column for teenagers under the name “Debbi Lynn” or I could smuggle gold into India or I could become a $100 call girl, and none of it would matter.

Nothing was irrevocable; everything was within reach. Just around every corner lay something curious and interesting, something I had never before seen or done or known about. I could go to a party and meet someone who called himself Mr. Emotional Appeal and ran The Emotional Appeal Institute or Tina Onassis Blandford or a Florida cracker who was then a regular on what the called “the Big C,” the Southampton-El Morocco circuit (“I’m well connected on the Big C, honey,” he would tell me over collard greens on his vast borrowed terrace), or the widow of the celery king of the Harlem market or a piano salesman from Bonne Terre, Missouri, or someone who had already made and list two fortunes in Midland, Texas. I could make promises to myself and to other people and there would be all the time in the world to keep them. I could stay up all night and make mistakes, and none of them would count.

You see I was in a curious position in New York: it never occurred to me that I was living a real life there. In my imagination I was always there for just another few months, just until Christmas or Easter or the first warm day in May. For that reason I was most comfortable with the company of Southerners. They seemed to be in New York as I was, on some indefinitely extended leave from wherever they belonged, disciplined to consider the future, temporary exiles who always knew when the flights left for New Orleans or Memphis or Richmond or, in my case, California. Someone who lives with a plane schedule in the drawer lives on a slightly different calendar. Christmas, for example, was a difficult season. Other people could take it in stride, going to Stowe or going abroad or going for the day to their mothers’ places in Connecticut; those of us who believed that we lived somewhere else would spend it making and canceling airline reservations, waiting for weatherbound flights as if for the last plane out of Lisbon in 1940, and finally comforting one another, those of us who were left, with oranges and mementos and smoked-oyster stuffings of childhood, gathering close, colonials in a far country.

Which is precisely what we were. I am not sure that it is possible for anyone brought up in the East to appreciate entirely what New York, the idea of New York, means to those of us who came out of the West and the South. To an Eastern child, particularly a child who has always has an uncle on Wall Street and who has spent several hundred Saturdays first at F.A.O. Schwarz and being fitted for shoes at Best’s and then waiting under the Biltmore clock and dancing to Lester Lanin, New York is just a city, albeit the city, a plausible place for people to live, But to those of us who came from places where no one had heard of Lester Lanin and Grand Central Station was a Saturday radio program, where Wall Street and Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue were not places at all but abstractions (“Money,” and “High Fashion,” and “The Hucksters”), New York was no mere city. It was instead an infinitely romantic notion, the mysterious nexus of all love and money and power, the shining and perishable dream itself. To think of “living” there was to reduce the miraculous to the mundane; one does not “live” at Xanadu.

In fact it was difficult in the extreme for me to understand those young women for whom New York was not simply an ephemeral Estoril but a real place, girls who bought toasters and installed new cabinets in their apartments and committed themselves to some reasonable furniture. I never bought any furniture in New York. For a year or so I lived in other people’s apartments; after that I lived in the Nineties in an apartment furnished entirely with things taken from storage by a friend whose wife had moved away. And when I left the apartment in the Nineties (that was when I was leaving everything, when it was all breaking up) I left everything in it, even my winter clothes and the map of Sacramento County I had hung on the bedroom wall to remind me who I was, and I moved into a monastic four-room floor-through on Seventy-fifth Street. “Monastic” is perhaps misleading here, implying some chic severity; until after I was married and my husband moved some furniture in, there was nothing at all in those four rooms except a cheap double mattress and box springs, ordered by telephone the day I decided to move, and two French garden chairs lent me by a friend who imported them. (It strikes me now that the people I knew in New York all had curious and self-defeating sidelines. They imported garden chairs which did not sell very well at Hammacher Schlemmer or they tried to market hair straighteners in Harlem or they ghosted exposés of Murder Incorporated for Sunday supplements. I think that perhaps none of us was very serious, engagé only about our most private lives.)

All I ever did to that apartment was hang fifty yards of yellow theatrical silk across the bedroom windows, because I had some idea that the gold light would make me feel better, but I did not bother to weight the curtains correctly and all that summer the long panels of transparent golden silk would blow out the windows and get tangled and drenched in afternoon thunderstorms. That was the year, my twenty-eight, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and ever procrastination, every word, all of it.

That is what it was all about, wasn’t it? Promises? Now when New York comes back to me it comes in hallucinatory flashes, so clinically detailed that I sometimes wish that memory would effect the distortion with which it is commonly credited. For a lot of the time I was in New York I used a perfume called Fleurs de Rocaille, and then L’Air du Temps, and now the slightest trace of either can short-circuit my connections for the rest of the day. Nor can I smell Henri Bendel jasmine soap without falling back into the past, or the particular mixture of spices used for boiling crabs. There were barrels of crab boil in a Czech place in the Eighties where I once shopped. Smells, of course, are notorious memory stimuli, but there are other things which affect me the same way. Blue-and-white striped sheets. Vermouth cassis. Some faded nightgowns which were new in 1959 or 1960, and some chiffon scarves I bought about the same time.

I suppose that a lot of us who have been very young in New York have the same scenes in our home screens. I remember sitting in a lot of apartments with a slight headache about five o’clock in the morning. I had a friend who could not sleep, and he knew a few other people who had the same trouble, and we would watch the sky lighten and have a last drink with no ice and then go home in the early morning, when the streets were clean and wet (had it rained in the night? we never knew) and the few cruising taxis still had their headlights on and the only color was the red and green of traffic signals. The White Rose bars opened very early in the morning; I recall waiting in one of them to watch an astronaut go into space, waiting so long that at the moment it actually happened I had my eyes not on the television screen but on a cockroach on the tile floor. I liked the bleak branches above Washington Square at dawn, and the monochromatic flatness of Second Avenue, the fire escapes and the grilled storefronts peculiar and empty in their perspective.

It is relatively hard to fight at six-thirty or seven in the morning, without any sleep, which was perhaps one reason why we stayed up all night, and it seemed to me a pleasant time of day. The windows were shuttered in that apartment in the Nineties and I could sleep for a few hours and then go to work. I could work the on two or three hours’ sleep and a container of coffee from Chock Full O’ Nuts. I liked going to work, liked the soothing and satisfactory rhythm of getting out a magazine, liked the orderly progression of four-color closings and two-color closings and black-and-white closings and then The Product, no abstraction but something which looked effortlessly glossy and could be picked up on a newsstand and weighed in the hand. I liked all the minutiae of proofs and layouts, liked working late on the nights the magazines went to press, sitting and reading Variety and waiting for the copy desk to call. From my office, I could look across town to the weather signal on the Mutual of New York Building and the lights that alternately spelled TIME and LIFE above Rockeffeler Plaza; that pleased me obscurely, and so did walking uptown in the mauve eight o’clocks of early summer evenings and looking at things, Lowestoft tureens in Fifty-seventh Street windows, people in evening clothes trying to get taxis, the trees just coming into full leaf, the lambent air, all the sweet promises of money and summer.

Some years passed, but I still did not lose that sense of wonder about New York. I began to cherish the loneliness of it, the sense that at any given time no one need know where I was or what I was doing. I liked walking, from the East River over to the Hudson and back on brisk days, down around the Village on warm days. A friend would leave me the key to her apartment in the West Village when she was out of town, and sometimes I would just move down there, because by that time the telephone was beginning to bother me (the canker, you see, was already in the rose) and not many people had that number. I remember one day when someone who did have the West Village number came to pick me up for lunch there, and we both had hangovers, and I cut my finger opening him a beer and burst into tears, and we walked to a Spanish restaurant and drank bloody Marys and gazpacho until we felt better. I was not then guilt-ridden about spending afternoons that way, because I still had all the afternoons in the world.

And even that late in the game I still liked going to parties, all parties, bad parties, Saturday-afternoon parties given by recently married couples who lived in Stuyvesant Town, West Side parties given by unpublished or failed writers who served cheap red wine and talked about going to Guatalajara, Village parties where all the guests worked for advertising agencies and voted for Reform Democrats, press parties at Sardi’s, the worst kind of parties. You will have perceived by now that I was not one to profit by the experience of others, that it was a very long time indeed before I stopped believing in new faces and began to understand the lesson in that story, which was that it is distinctly possible to stay too long at the Fair.

I could not tell you when I began to understand that. All I know is that it was very bad when I was twenty-eight. Everything that was said to me I seemed to have heard before, and I could no longer listen. I could no longer sit in little bars near Grand Central and listen to someone complaining of his wife’s inability to cope with the help while he missed another train to Connecticut. I no longer had any interest in hearing about the advances other people had received from their publishers, about plays which were having second-act trouble in Philadelphia, or about people I would like very much if only I would come out and meet them. I had already met them, always. There were certain parts of the city which I had to avoid. I could not bear upper Madison Avenue on weekday mornings (this was a particularly inconvenient aversion, since I then lived just fifty or sixty feet east of Madison), because I would see women walking Yorkshire terriers and shopping at Gristede’s, and some Veblenesque gorge would rise in my throat. I could not go to Times Square in the afternoon, or to the New York Public Library for any reason whatsoever. One day I could not go into a Schrafft’s; the next it would be the Bonwit Teller.

I hurt the people I cared about, and insulted those I did not. I cut myself off from the one person who was closer to me than any other. I cried until I was not even aware when I was crying and when I was not, I cried in elevators and in taxis and in Chinese laundries, and when I went to the doctor, he said only that I seemed to be depressed, and that I should see a “specialist.” He wrote down a psychiatrist’s name and address for me, but I did not go.

Instead I got married, which as it turned out was a very good thing to do but badly timed, since I still could not walk on upper Madison Avenue in the mornings and still could not talk to people and still cried in Chinese laundries. I had never before understood what “despair” meant, and I am not sure that I understand now, but I understood that year. Of course I could not work. I could not even get dinner with any degree of certainty, and I would sit in the apartment on Seventy-fifth Street paralyzed until my husband would call from his office and say gently that I did not have to get dinner, that I could meet him at Michael’s Pub or at Toots Shor’s or at Sardi’s East. And then one morning in April (we had been married in January) he called and told me that he wanted to get out of New York for a while, that he would take a six-month leave of absence, that we would go somewhere.

It was three years ago he told me that, and we have lived in Los Angeles since. Many of the people we knew in New York think this a curious aberration, and in fact tell us so. There is no possible, no adequate answer to that, and so we give certain stock answers, the answers everyone gives. I talk about how difficult it would be for us to “afford” to live in New York right now, about how much “space” we need, All I mean is that I was very young in New York, and that at some point the golden rhythm was broken, and I am not that young anymore. The last time I was in New York was in a cold January, and everyone was ill and tired. Many of the people I used to know there had moved to Dallas or had gone on Antabuse or had bought a farm in New Hampshire. We stayed ten days, and then we took an afternoon flight back to Los Angeles, and on the way home from the airport that night I could see the moon on the Pacific and smell jasmine all around and we both knew that there was no longer any point in keeping the apartment we still kept in New York. There were years when I called Los Angeles “the Coast,” but they seem a long time ago.