Trump Tower opens after controversy, protests, mob ties

The Trump Timeline

Sources linked at end of page.


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Trump Tower opens in NYC to huge praise despite Donald Trump’s mistreatment of undocumented workers and his known ties to New York’s crime families.

Law enforcement knew early on in the building’s construction that the mob was involved in the concrete business. The FBI even interviewed Trump about his relationship with John Cody, the mob associate and union leader providing the concrete.

Trump biographer Wayne Barrett believes Trump also met with Anthony Salerno at Roy Cohn’s townhouse in recent years. Salerno has been a frontman for Genovese crime family boss Vincent Gigante since 1981.

According to his niece Mary L. Trump, Trump’s latest project was already surrounded by controversy before opening day.

The controversies began in early 1980, when undocumented Polish workers came forward with complaints of unsafe working conditions and unlivable wages.

The men were putting in 12-hour shifts with inadequate safety equipment at subpar wages that their contractor paid sporadically, if at all. A lawyer for many of the Poles demanded that the workers be paid or else he would serve Trump with a lien on the property. One Polish worker even went to Trump’s office to ask him for money in person, according to sworn testimony and a deposition filed under oath in a court case.


In 1981, the Tower made headlines when minority (and documented) construction workers began holding demonstrations outside the construction site. Protesters demanded that Trump hire more minorities. In return, Trump’s workers attacked and heavily damaged a school bus that had brought demonstrators to the site. At another protest a month later, four police were injured.

Some on the construction crews hurled bottles, coffee, food and water at the crowd below, while others went into the street and shouted at the demonstrators, who were chanting: ”We want jobs now,” and ”We don’t work, then they don’t work.” Four police officers were injured, including one who suffered a stab wound in the lower back.

The New York Times

Trump Tower also made headlines in 1981 when Mayor Ed Koch tried to block Trump from a $20 million tax abatement on the property (similar to the $42 million abatement he received for the Grand Hyatt). A New York State Supreme Court judge ruled in Trump’s favor. Trump called the case ”the most discriminatory thing I’ve seen in my life.” An Appeals Court later sided with the mayor. The abatement remained in the courts until Trump won in June 1983.

Just months before construction finished, a man was struck by glass falling from the building. He died a month later.

Note: The first floor of Trump Tower, the lounge and shopping area, were complete and open months earlier than construction finished on the rest of the building.

External Sources

Politico (Archived)

The National Memo (Archived)

The Daily Beast, Archived

Time, Archived

New York Times – Protests (Archived)

New York Times – Tax Abatement (Archived)

New York Times – Appeals Court (Archived)

New York Times – Trump wins (Archived)

New York Times – Trump Tower victim (Archived)

Mary L. Trump, Too Much and Never Enough, p.133

Photo: Ted Horowitz—Corbis/Getty Images

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