[toc]Regardless of how Americans may feel about President-elect Donald Trump, there is no doubt that his life is playing a large role in national history.
For more than two decades his name has dominated headlines. Now, a group of Atlantic City locals are launching a campaign to create a Trump museum.
Trump’s Atlantic City connection
Trump has a long history in Atlantic City going back to 1984, when he opened the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino. In 1991, when business was booming, Trump owned three casinos in New Jersey and employed more than 12,700 people there, almost one-third of the Atlantic City’s entire casino workforce.
Of course, not all of Trump’s dealings with the resort town have been positive. Trump’s casino companies filed for bankruptcy protection five times in the 25 years he owned casinos in Atlantic City.
Those financial woes reached their end when he sold the Trump Taj Mahal to his friend and investor Carl Icahn, who also owns the Tropicana NJ.
From the beginning of his presidential campaign, Trump defended his record in Atlantic City, saying that he used the nation’s bankruptcy laws to his advantage and that he left the city before it collapsed.
Critics argue that despite Trump continuing to make millions, he did so at the expense of his investors and some contractors were paid only a small fraction of the money they were owed.
Although Trump severed most of his ties to Atlantic City in 2009, it wasn’t until October that the last remnants of his casino empire went by the wayside. That’s when the Trump Taj Mahal, then owned by Icahn, closed its doors.
The idea behind the Trump museum
Proponents of a Trump museum say it would accomplish multiple goals for the struggling resort town.
It would give the public a wealth of information regarding the 25 years Trump spent as a casino owner in Atlantic City, and it would direct much-needed tourism back into the municipality. In the last few years, it has suffered five casino closures, as well as a state takeover of the municipal government.
To support his belief, Levi Fox — a member of the pro-museum group, a doctoral student at Temple University, and owner of Jersey Shore Tours — points toward Sevnica, Slovenia, the birthplace of first-lady-to-be Melania Trump, which has seen a huge tourist influx to the town since the election.
Fox has already been taking advantage of Trump’s history with Atlantic City by giving Trump-themed tours on the Boardwalk, but he feels that a museum would be a much bigger deal.
“This is something that could drive people to the city,” Fox said. “You look at what is happening in Melania’s hometown, and why couldn’t that happen here?”
The group’s goals
In addition to seeking artifacts, objects, images, documents, and stories about Trump’s influence on Atlantic City, the group is also looking for funding and a potential museum location.
Fox says the museum could turn into an “Age of Trump” exhibit, which focuses on the broader history of Atlantic City since the 1976 legalization of casino gambling.
“This is really timely,” he said. “This is not something we want to wait on, and let some other city try to become a place where people can learn about Mr. Trump and have it benefit the local economy.”
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