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Step Back in Time to Uncover the History of Madison Square Garden

History of Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden is a place in New York where people enjoy different sports, concerts and a variety of events. This multi-purpose arena has been the center of attention of New York City since 1879.
Shashank Nakate
Last Updated: Mar 17, 2018
Situated in the heart of the New York City, Madison Square Garden is also known as The Garden. This arena is used to organize sport events, entertainment programs and concerts. An interesting thing about today's Madison Square Garden is that it is neither situated near the Madison Square, nor is it a garden.
The first two buildings of this arena were however, constructed on the 26th street near the Madison Square. The history of Madison Square Garden can be divided in the following sections.
The First Garden
madison square garden railway station
The first Madison Square Garden was built in 1879 and it had a seating capacity of 10,000. This place was originally the New York and Harlem Railroad passenger depot. It was leased to P. T. Barnum in 1871 after which he transformed the structure into a circus arena (82m long). Different activities like boxing matches and circus were held at this arena, until 1890 when the Madison Square Garden I was closed down.
The Madison Square Garden I had a velodrome, a track cycling arena in its premises. With the velodrome arena in the Madison Square Garden becoming popular, a large number of track cycling arenas mushroomed throughout the United States. Madison, a team sport in cycling, is played in the Olympics. It is named after the Madison Square Garden I. The first indoor rink in the United States for ice hockey too was introduced in this arena.
Madison Square Garden II
madison square garden building
It was designed by Mr. Stanford White and had a seating capacity of 8,000. The Democratic National Convention of 1924 was held in this arena. Constructed along the lines of Moorish architecture, it was the second tallest building in New York City. The building had 32 stories and a statue of Diana, the 'goddess of hunt' was installed on the top by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, an American sculptor. In the year 1925, the Madison Square Garden II was replaced by Madison Square Garden III.
Madison Square Garden III
madison square garden building
The third garden was in focus, primarily for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Although ice hockey was played in the garden, the circus was allotted more time for their acts. The third Madison Square Garden had a seating capacity of 18,496 with 114m x 61m as its dimensions. Cost incurred in the construction of this structure was $4.75 million. Over the years, few problems like poor sight lines and ventilation started cropping up. It was closed down in the year 1967.
It was Tex Rickard, a boxing promoter from New York whose efforts led to the completion of this building in just 249 days. Thomas W. Lamb was the architect who designed this building.
The Madison Square Garden III arena hosted basketball and ice hockey, featuring the 'New York Knicks' and the 'New York Rangers' respectively. It also hosted several boxing matches. The day of 17th January, 1941 witnessed a record number of people (23,190) attending the garden to watch Henry Armstrong pitted against Fritzie Zivic in a boxing match. In 1954, the garden hosted the All-Star Game started by the NBA. The NBA were the first to start the All-Star Game on 2nd March, 1951 in Boston.
After the Madison Square Garden III was closed, the place was used as a parking space till 1989; after which the Worldwide Plaza was constructed there.
Quick Fact!
The title (World Light Heavyweight) fight between Paul Berlenbach from USA and the French Canadian Jack Delaney was one of the important events organized after the opening of the third Madison Square Garden.
Madison Square Garden IV
madison square garden complex
This garden opened on 11th February, 1968. The Madison Square Garden IV is a unique piece of architecture, since it was built above the Pennsylvania Station, which operates underground. This building is located between the 8th Avenue and 31st and 33rd streets. The construction of the building was headed by R.E. Mckee from Texas. In 1991, renovation of the garden was done and $200 million were spent on this work.
The Madison Square Garden IV hosts different teams from various sports. The New York Titans' lacrosse match was organized at the garden in 2007. Around 13,000 people attended the match. On 27th October, 2011 a renovated lower bowl was opened. The main feature of this renovated structure is the luxury suites. Important Landmarks in the vicinity of Madison Square Garden are the Koreatown, Empire State Building and Macy's.
Few Interesting Facts
madison square garden sports complex
  • The first match between the boxing legends Mohammed Ali and Joe Frazier was held at the Madison Square Garden on 8th March, 1971.
  • In 1970, the Madison Square Garden witnessed the New York Knicks winning the NBA Championship.
madison square garden at night
  • Elvis Presley, Elton John, Billy Joel and the English rock band, Rolling Stones have graced the Madison Square Garden with their performances.
  • It was at the Madison Square Garden that the famous heavyweight boxer, Joe Louis defended his title 7 times.
One of the historic structures and the pride of New York City, the Madison Square Garden has witnessed many changes taking place in this city for over a century. With all the concerts, events and sports activities buzzing the arena, the Madison Square Garden continues to provide great entertainment for the people of New York.