We Americans like to name buildings for our presidents. It is a way of honoring our leaders’ contributions while displaying pride for our democracy. Naming buildings after presidents, and also enjoying these buildings, is usually not a big source of controversy. For example, President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, signed the legislation renaming the Old Executive Office Building as the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building, in honor of the former Republican president. A mile away, audience members attend performances at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts regardless of their political affiliations.
This is how things normally work in America. But with Donald Trump, we are witnessing something unheard of. In the short time since Trump was elected president, he has inspired name changes in the opposite direction. More and more people are taking action to remove his name from buildings.
Before Trump took office, his name was already on many buildings for commercial reasons. An ego-driven real estate mogul, Trump lent his name to add more value while promoting his brand. But as it becomes clear that separating children from their parents and comforting white supremacists rank among this president’s favorite pastimes, that value has evaporated for many people.
When Trump was elected in 2016, all six buildings at New York’s Trump Place had his name on the facade. Now, that number will be going down to zero. Residents of the last two Trump Place buildings just joined their neighbors in deciding to remove his name from their home, as first reported by The Washington Post. Trump has also seen his name removed from hotels in Toronto, New York, and Panama since taking office.
Even President Nixon managed to get two elementary schools to adopt his name before Watergate claimed his presidency and shattered his legacy. But at the rate Donald Trump is going, he is on track to becoming the first president to leave office with a net negative when it comes to naming buildings for him.