The Trump Files: When Donald Struck Oil on the Upper West Side

“We could be pumping here for years.”

Ivylise Simones


Until the election, we’re bringing you “The Trump Files,” a daily dose of telling episodes, strange but true stories, or curious scenes from the life of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

Donald Trump, oil tycoon? That’s what it sounded like in 1985, when Trump announced he had struck oil on a sprawling vacant lot he owned on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

”Isn’t it amazing?” Mr. Trump told the New York Times. “It’s a classic major oil find in Manhattan.”

Not quite. The oil wasn’t from an ancient crude deposit hiding beneath the city. It was actually spilled and leaked leftovers. The property used to be a rail yard. “The bulk of the find is No. 2 diesel oil for locomotives,” the Times pointed out.

New York environmental officials estimated there were perhaps 100,000 gallons of oil on the property. That’s enough for 2,380 barrels—about 0.0003 percent of what the United States now produces in a day. But that didn’t seem to dampen Donald’s enthusiasm. He claimed he was already getting calls from Texan oil barons about his huge find. “We could be pumping here for years,” he insisted.

Read the rest of “The Trump Files”:

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate