NEW YORK — News that residents at 200 Riverside Boulevard had voted to remove the words “TRUMP PLACE” from their building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side prompted Greg Schlotthauer, 51, to hop on his bike, don his anti-Trump button and head up to the scene to watch the action unfold.
He arrived before the bucket truck that would carry out the task. In the cold, whipping wind, he and other spectators watched as the crews got to work.
“Yay!” Schlotthauer hollered as they pulled one of the letters of Trump’s last name off of the building. “Thank you!”
Given the strength of the wind, it’s unlikely the workers heard Schlotthauer’s cheers.
The scene unfolding was the culmination of a legal battle between the Trump Organization and the condo board of 200 Riverside Boulevard, which earlier this year asked a New York judge to determine whether it had the right to remove its own signs. The judge agreed — but only if residents approved.
On Wednesday, residents voted 69 percent to 31 percent to remove the name, and on Thursday the letters came down.
The building is still managed by an arm of the president’s company, but the loss of the name is significant. Once, driving along the elevated West Side Highway past the towers built by Trump in the 1990s, the “Trump Place” lettering appeared on one after another. As of Thursday morning, only two buildings in the area once hopefully dubbed “Trump City” by the developer were still publicly identified as Trump-affiliated.
Why remove the sign from outside the building? Residents of the building, some of whom turned up to watch the spectacle Thursday, cited concerns about property values and security in light of Trump’s divisive presidency. The Post reported earlier this year that values at Trump properties in the president’s home town had dropped since he announced his candidacy.
Some residents said it was simply because of the association with a president they detest.
“I don’t think that the name ‘Trump’ anymore stands for what the building is,” said Eilish Calahan, 43, who has owned in the building for 15 years and called it a “loving, happy, inclusive community.”
“Living in a place that represents your values is important to me, and that, to me, didn’t represent my values,” she added.
Celine Johnson, who has lived in the building since 1999 and was outside taking pictures of the sign removal, agreed. “Personally, I’m happy not to be associated with that name.”
Richie Herschenfeld, 57, lives in 200 Riverside and works as a real estate broker.
“I’ve shown an apartment right now in 220” — 220 Riverside, one of only two buildings on the street that still bear Trump’s name — “which is also a Trump building and people have shown up, totally wasting my time, saying that they couldn’t live there anyway,” he said. “Because of the name.”
Herschenfeld said that he thought the sign removal was mostly about “looking to stick it to” the president, but that, as a renter, he wasn’t concerned about the value of the property personally. He did admit, somewhat sheepishly, that he was often “a little apologetic” when telling friends where he lived.
One resident of 220 Riverside said safety was an issue — for instance, if someone decided to target the building for violence over displeasure with the president. A 61-year-old man who only gave his name as Charlie was among those who came out to take photos. He blamed a recent incident of vandalism on the visibility of the Trump sign.
“The Trump name originally stood for a really comfortable place to live,” he said. “Now it stands for a political agenda. A building’s name needs to be benign and the Trump name no longer is.”
After prying off each letter Thursday, the workers placed them on a balcony overlooking the front entrance. Once all of the letters were removed, they were lowered to the ground and transferred onto a truck, fate to be determined.
Once the letters were gone, “TRUMP PLACE” could still be read on the front of the building, clear as day. Removing the letters revealed clean patches in each letter’s shape, the way a picture removed from its hook reveals an unfaded patch of wallpaper. Ten clean patches of concrete, one for each letter, last seen in daylight when the name “Trump” meant little more than “real-estate magnate.”