It's hard for me to think of the Taj without thinking about the Sex and the City episode filmed there, during which Carrie refers to it as the "understated Taj Mahal." This if funny, of course, because the Taj (like most things associated with Donald Trump) is the very opposite of understated.
I took my mom to Atlantic City last week for an overnight trip to celebrate her birthday, and one of the first places we went was the Taj. I'd heard that its closing was imminent, but didn't expect that we'd be among some of the last people to ever walk on on its gaudy carpeted casino floors.
Outside of the Taj, workers have been striking since July, but the mood inside was much more subdued. If you've ever been inside of a casino, you know they're sensory overload in every way, but the Taj was almost eerily quiet. At first glance it might seem as if nothing was amiss, but then we noticed that there was only a handful of people—staff and patrons—and a lot of the machines were turned off, broken or roped off with caution tape. If we didn't already know that the end was near, it would've been pretty obvious after a few minutes.It was sad and weird to walk around the near-empty casino floor—the Sultan's Palace (for high rollers) was completely empty, all of the restaurants were closed, there was only one cashier and the huge hotel check-in counter was deserted.
The outside looks as opulent as ever—there's still a parking lot devoted entirely to limos—but upon closer inspection, I spotted peeling paint, broken streetlights and dangling wires. Much has been said about Donald Trump the "businessman," and although he no longer owns a stake in the Taj it's hard not to consider his roll in making (and breaking) Atlantic City. It's strange to have grown up with DJT the casino magnate and reality star, and to watch as he tries to reinvent himself as DJT the presidential candidate. But like his casinos (Trump Plaza has been closed since 2014) Trump is all artifice—beneath the flashy exterior it's all dangling wires and peeling paint, and ultimately he too will fail.