Madison Square Garden
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN. William Vanderbilt opened New York's Madison Square Garden in 1879 at Twenty-Sixth Street and Madison Avenue. The structure was a former railroad shed, first employed for mass entertainment in 1874 by P. T. Barnum. Vanderbilt replaced it in 1890 with Stanford White's $3 million arena, the city's second tallest building. It became the preeminent American indoor sports facility, featuring bicycle races, long distance footraces, boxing matches, an annual horse show, and the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, and was the site of the seventeen-day Democratic national
convention in 1924. However, the second Garden was not profitable until Tex Rickard leased the building in 1920. A great promoter, he made the edifice the mecca for prizefighting, six-day bicycle races, and the circus. In 1925, a new $6 million Garden was built at Fiftieth Street and Eighth Avenue and became an immediate success. Profitable new attractions included professional hockey, the Ice Show, and college basketball doubleheaders. After World War II, the building was busier than ever with the addition of the Knickerbockers professional basketball team. However, the 1951 basketball scandal curtailed intercollegiate basketball, and boxing began to decline at the end of the 1950s because of antitrust violations, underworld influence, and television overexposure. A new, more modern $116 million facility was built in 1968 atop Pennsylvania Station between Thirty-First and Thirty-Third Streets on Seventh Avenue. It has been the scene of three Stanley Cup hockey finals, four National Basketball Association championship series, and momentous boxing events such as the 1971 match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.
Durso, Joseph. Madison Square Garden: 100 Years of History. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979.