This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files“—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current president—on July 19, 2016.
Architecture experts seemed shocked, when Trump Tower opened in 1983, to find that its six-story, brass-and-marble-encrusted shopping atrium was actually pretty tasteful. Paul Goldberger, the New York Times‘ architecture critic, wrote that “the atrium of Trump Tower may well be the most pleasant interior public space to be completed in New York in some years. It is warm, luxurious and even exhilarating.” He even praised the color of the marble—”a mixture of rose and peach and orange”—that was hand-picked by Ivana on a trip to Italy.
Of course, there was still plenty of room for Trumpian foibles. Trump was famous for micromanaging minute details of the building’s construction, demanding that various fixtures be replaced if they didn’t meet his standards. And for a group of trees he had ordered from Florida, that meant an untimely death, which the Times chronicled in a 1984 profile:
Mr. Trump does not place patience on his list of virtues. Workmen confirm a story that he paid $75,000 to truck several 40-foot trees from Florida to Trump Tower, where a tunnel was built into the building so the trees would not be damaged by frost. The 3,000-pound trees were then installed in the lower plaza of the atrium. Mr. Trump did not like the look. He ordered the trees removed, and, when workmen balked for 24 hours, Mr. Trump had the trees cut down with a chainsaw.
As Newsweek later reported, it wasn’t a cheap change of heart: “It cost Trump $100,000 more, but he got rid of the trees he didn’t want.”