Image by Salim Virji
The Wollman Rink located in the bustling heart of New York City, situated in Central Park is a beloved landmark that has brought joy and delight to generations of New Yorkers. The Wollman Rink opened in 1950 named after philanthropist Kate Wollman who donated generously to the fixture. This iconic ice skating rink has become an essential part of the city's winter charm, drawing visitors from all walks of life creating magical moments.
As the 1970’s rolled on Wollman Rink became in desperate need of repairs and closed in 1980. After 6 years and nearly 13 million dollars the State of New York could not address the issues causing the rink to be uninhabitable to the public. In 1986 Donald Trump publicly issued a statement on his personal dismay to the dilapidated state of Wolman Rink which over looked his residency. Trump’s vocal presents, in addition to meetings with Mayor Ed Koch attracted significant attention from the papers putting the Wollman Rink fiasco in the spotlight. Eventually Mayor Ed Koch under public pressure agreed to Trump taking over the project.
Trump boldly set a 6 month deadline and an agreed upon a 3 million dollar budget with the state. Trump enlisted the services of Canadian company Toromont CIMCO renowned for their caliber in building ice skating rinks for professional ice hockey. This move from Donald Trump propelled the repairs required of Wollman Rink, quickly solving the issues the state could not overcome. By November 1986 Wollman Rink was reopened, the operation under Donald Trump’s management was a major success for New York as the project was $750,000 under budget and 3 months ahead of schedule. The following year saw attendance increase by 120,000 visitors in 1987.
The Trump Organization agreed to donate the majority of the profits made from the Wollman Rink’s revenue to charity and public works. Charities included United Cerebral Palsy along with proceeds issued to Partnership for the Homeless initiative. Donald Trump received proceeds from the now demolished Lasker Rink in recognition for his services in the Wollman Rink project. The Trump Organization won the rights to concessions for both rinks in 1987 until relinquishing the rights in 1995 to M&T Pretzel Inc.
In 2001 the Trump Organization regained the rights to concession until 2021, following Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to cease the operating contract with the Trump Organization. The Trump legacy will be ingrained forever in the fascinating history of Wolman Rink as outdoor ice skating has a continuous influence on New York’s winter culture.