As first reported in the Boston Globe you can almost hear what Donald Trump said about the 22 foot long public bench that sits below the elevators in the corridor of New York City’s Fifth Avenue Trump Tower.
In 1979 New York City granted Trump the right to build 200,000 square feet beyond what was allowed under the zoning with the proviso that he also provided “an 8,000-square-foot public atrium on street and lower levels, two outdoor landscaped terraces totaling 7,000 square feet, a passageway to public space in the adjacent IBM building, and extra retail. Under this deal, the atrium had to be open to the public seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ” Trump also had to agree to movable tables and chairs, bathrooms, landscaping, a waterfall-and the 22 foot long bench.
But there was a problem-the public sat on the bench.
“We have had tremendous difficulties with respect to the bench,” he wrote. “Drug addicts, vagrants, et cetera have come to the Atrium in large numbers to sit and, in fact, to sleep on this bench. . . . Therefore, we have placed beautiful seasonal flowers and plantings around this area and have since had no problems.”
What Donald Trump didn’t say is that the “beautiful seasonal flowers and plantings” were placed ON the bench, meaning that no one could sit on the bench. When complaints meant that the plants had to be removed, the public could use the bench again. But then the bench disappeared replaced by a booth selling Trump memorabilia. City inspections and a $14,000 fine brought the bench back in July of last year, now metal instead of the original marble.
And now, the bench has a purpose. “Each morning, the bench fills with journalists and their cameras as they record who rides up and down the elevators to meet with Trump or his transition team. Many of these visitors come over to the bench and chat about the latest developments. The ubiquitous television shot of the elevator doors opening and closing comes from a camera placed above the bench…Now, the little bench that could is serving the public interest in ways never imagined by those who sketched it on the plan so many years ago.”