Former Trump casino where stars played goes out with a bang

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The former Trump Plaza casino is imploded on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Atlantic City, N.J. After falling into disrepair, the one-time jewel of former President Donald Trump's casino empire is reduced to rubble, clearing the way for a prime development opportunity on the middle of the Boardwalk, where the Plaza used to market itself as "the center of it all." (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – A spot on the Atlantic City Boardwalk where movie stars, athletes and rock stars used to party — and a future president honed his instincts for bravado and hype — was reduced to a dusty pile of rubble on Wednesday.

The former Trump Plaza casino was imploded after falling into such disrepair that chunks of the building began peeling off and crashing to the ground.

A series of loud explosions around 9 a.m. rocked the building, which started to collapse in a wave from back to front until it plunged straight down in a giant cloud of dust that enveloped the beach and Boardwalk. Overall, it took the structure less than 20 seconds to implode.

“I got chills,” Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small said. “This is a historic moment. It was exciting.”

He estimated the remaining pile of rubble is about eight stories tall, and would be removed by June 10. Some of it could be used by environmentalists interested in building an artificial fishing reef off the coast of Atlantic City.

Additional parts of the casino-hotel complex fronting on the Boardwalk and on Pacific Avenue, the main road along the row of casinos, were not included in the implosion. They will be demolished in the near future using heavy equipment, not explosives.

The removal of the one-time jewel of former President Donald Trump's casino empire clears the way for a prime development opportunity on the middle of the Boardwalk, where the Plaza used to market itself as “Atlantic City's centerpiece.”

“The way we put Trump Plaza and the city of Atlantic City on the map for the whole world was really incredible,” said Bernie Dillon, the events manager for the casino from 1984 to 1991. “Everyone from Hulk Hogan to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, it was the whole gamut of personalities. One night before a Tyson fight I stopped dead in my tracks and looked about four rows in as the place was filling up, and there were two guys leaning in close and having a private conversation: Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty."