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Madison Square Garden
MSG, The Garden
Madison Square Garden
The current Madison Square Garden is located at 7th Avenue between 31st and 33rd Streets.
Location 4 Pennsylvania Plaza
New York, New York 10001
Opened February 14, 1968
Owner Cablevision (through Madison Square Garden L.P.)
Operator Cablevision
Construction cost $123 million USD
Architect Charles Luckman
Associates, Ellerbe Becket
Tenants New York Rangers (NHL) (1968-present)
New York Americans (NHL) (1925-1942)
Capacity Hockey: 18,200

Madison Square Garden, often abbreviated as MSG, known simply as The Garden, has been the name of four arenas in New York City, United States. It is also the name of the entity which owns the arena and several of the professional sports franchises which play there. There have been four incarnations of the arena. The first two were located at the Northeast corner of Madison Square (Madison Ave. & 26th St.) from which the arena derived its name. Subsequently a new 17,000-seat Garden (opened December 15, 1925) was built at 50th Street and 8th Avenue, and the current Garden (opened February 14, 1968) is at 7th Avenue between 31st and 33rd Streets, situated on top of Pennsylvania Station.

The arena lends its name to the Madison Square Garden Network, a cable television network that broadcasts most sporting events that are held in the Garden, as well as concerts and entertainment events that have taken place at the venue.

It is controlled by the Madison Square Garden, L.P. subsidiary of Cablevision.


Madison Square Garden derives its name from the park where the first two gardens were located (Madison Square) on Madison Avenue at 26th Street. As the venue moved to new locations the name still stuck, although since 1925 Madison Square Garden has been neither a garden nor on Madison Square.


The location of the first Madison Square Garden (now known as Madison Square Garden I), was at 26th Street and Madison Avenue. The site was formerly occupied by the passenger depot of the New York and Harlem Railroad. When the depot was moved to the what is now the site of Grand Central Terminal in 1871, the old depot was sold to P.T. Barnum who converted it into "Barnum's Monster Classical and Geological Hippodrome." In 1876 Barnum's was converted into "Gilmore's Garden," an open air arena named in honor of Patrick Gilmore.[1] Gilmore was America's most well-known bandmaster at the time. His most famous composition was "When Johnny Comes Marching Home."

Finally, Gilmore's Garden was renamed "Madison Square Garden" by William Henry Vanderbilt and the facility was reopened to the public on May 31, 1879. The first Garden was originally designed for the sport of track cycling. This is still remembered in the name of the Madison event.



Madison Square Garden II.

The second Madison Square Garden (now known as Madison Square Garden II), also located at 26th and Madison Avenue was designed by Stanford White, who would later be killed at the Garden's rooftop restaurant. White kept an apartment, site of the famous red velvet swing, in the building.

The new structure was 200 feet by 485 feet of Moorish architecture with a minaret-like tower soaring 32 stories over Madison Square Park and was the city's second tallest building. The Garden's main hall, was the largest in the world, measured 200 by 350 feet with permanent seating for 8,000 people and floor space for thousands more.

Topping the garden was a statue of Diana, by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The original bronze statue was 18 ft. tall and weighed 1,800 lbs., but spun with the wind. It was placed on top of the tower in 1891, but was soon thought to be too large by Saint-Gaudens and White, the architect.(It was removed and placed on top of a building at The World's Columbian Exhibition in Chicago - the bottom half was destroyed by a fire after the close of the Exhibition, and the top half was lost.) In 1893 a guilded, hollow copper, 2nd version of Diana, replaced the original on top of the Garden tower. This 2nd version was 13 ft. tall and is now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and a copy is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Saint-Gaudens made several smaller variants in bronze, one of which was on display in the entryway of Madison Square Garden III, and also in a similar location in the current Garden, MSG IV.

It hosted the 1924 Democratic National Convention, which nominated John W. Davis after 103 ballots. Afterwards, it was torn down to make way for the landmark New York Life Insurance Building.

White was a member of the architecture firm McKim, Mead and White which designed Pennsylvania Station which was torn down to make way for MSG IV. The firm also designed the James Farley Post Office which is being proposed as the anchor for the proposed new Pennsylvania Station as well as the proposed MSG V.


1925 NYA program

1925-26 New York Americans game program cover for hockey at Madison Square Garden

The third garden, now known as Madison Square Garden III, was built on 50th Street and Eighth Avenue by boxing promoter Tex Rickard and was dubbed "The House That Tex Built." The New York Rangers got their name in a wordplay on Tex's name (e.g., Tex's Rangers). It was built in 249 days on the site of the city's street car barns. However, the Rangers were not the first NHL team to play at the Garden. The New York Americans had begun play in 1925 and were so wildly successful at the gate that Rickard wanted his own team also. The Rangers were founded in 1926 and both teams played at the Garden until the Americans folded in 1942, the Rangers having stolen their commercial success with their own success on the ice (winning 3 Stanley Cups between 1928 and 1940). This was the basis for the "Curse" that supposedly prevented the Rangers from winning the Stanley Cup again until 1994.

While the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus had debuted at the Garden in 1919, the third garden saw large numbers of performances. The circus was so important to the Garden that when the Rangers played in the 1928 Stanley Cup Finals, the team was forced to play all games on the road (the Rangers won the series anyway). The circus would continue to perform as often as three times daily, repeatedly knocking the Rangers out of the Garden at playoff time, throughout the life of the third Garden. Even at the fourth Garden, games would have to begin as late as 9:00 p.m. to accommodate the circus. The Circus Acrobatics were very dramatic including acts in the Rings as well as on the high wire and trapeze. One dramatic act which was only performed in the Garden, and not taken on the road with the traveling Circus, involved Blinc Candlin, a Hudson, New York fireman, who rode his (already antique) 1880s High Wheel bicycle on the high wire every season for over 2 decades starting in the 1910s and running well through the 1930s.

In 1928 Rickard built "Boston Madison Square Garden." The name got clipped to Boston Garden.

Boxing was Madison Square Garden III's principal claim to fame. The building exterior in contrast to the ornate towers of the first two Garden was a simple box. Its most distinctive feature was its ornate marquee that was above the main entrance, with its seemingly endless abbreviations (Tomw., V/S, Rgrs, Tonite, Thru, etc) Even the name was abbreviated: Madison Sq. Garden. On January 17, 1941, 23,190 people witnessed Fritzie Zivic successful welterweight defense against Henry Armstrong. That is the biggest attendance record of any of the Gardens. MSG III was featured prominently in the 2005 Ron Howard film Cinderella Man (although exterior montage shots glorified it by placing it against the Times Square signs on Broadway when it was in fact one block west).

NYR1932 33

The NHL New York Rangers were a prime tenant of the 50th St. MSG from 1926 to 1968 (1932-33 Team Picture)

It hosted the only indoor bout in the career of Jack Dempsey. It cost $4.75 million to build; this one hosted seven NCAA men's basketball championships between 1943 and 1950.

City College of New York (CCNY) was one of the first schools banned from playing at MSG due to the 1951 CCNY Point Shaving Scandal.[2]

It also hosted the NBA All-Star Game in 1954 and 1955. Ironically one type of event that was never held in the 50th St. MSG (except in the movies) was a national Democratic or Republican nominating convention as neither of these parties met in New York to select their candidates for President and Vice President of the United States between 1924 and 1976.

The third Garden had poor sightlines, especially for hockey, and fans sitting in the upper deck could count on having some portion of the ice obstructed, unless they sat in the first row. The fact that there was poor ventilation and that smoking was permitted often led to a haze in the upper portions of the Garden.

When it was torn down, there was a proposal to build the world's tallest building on its site prompting a major battle in its Hell's Kitchen neighborhood that ultimately resulted in strict height restrictions. The space remained a parking lot though until 1989 when Worldwide Plaza designed by David Childs of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill opened.

Madison Square Garden Bowl[]

Madison Square built an open air arena, the Madison Square Garden Bowl at 48th and Northern Boulevard in Long Island City in 1932 that could seat 72,000. This was the site where James Braddock defeated Max Baer for the World Heavyweight title on June 13, 1935 that was dramatized in the film Cinderella Man. Braddock was born on West 48th Street in Hell's Kitchen just a few blocks from the West 49th Street location of MSGIII. Braddock's first come back fight against John "Corn" Griffin was also in the venue. Jack Sharkey and Primo Carnera also captured the heavyweight crown in the 1930s at the Madison Square Garden Bowl. All of these fights were presided over by former Athletic/Boxing Commissioner James Farley and as of 2007 plans are underway to house Madison Square Garden V in the Landmark James Farley Post Office's Annex which is dubbed the Farley Annex.

The bowl was torn down after World War II to make way for U.S. Steel and Ronzoni Macaroni Company factories. They in turn were torn down and the area is now home to a series of car dealerships.

Antonio Aguilar played there once, Antonio Aguilar is the only hispanic to ever sell out the Madison Square Garden on six consecutive nights


Madison Square Garden ad

1968 Advertisement showing architect's model of the final plan for the Madison Square Garden Center complex. The neighborhood is known as Pennsylvania Plaza.

On February 11, 1968 Madison Square Garden IV opened after the Pennsylvania Railroad tore down Pennsylvania Station and continued railway traffic underneath. The new structure was one of the first of its kind to be built above an active railroad system. It was an engineering feat constructed by R.E. McKee of El Paso, Texas.

Public outcry over the demolished Beaux-Arts structure led to the creation of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The current Garden is the hub of Madison Square Garden Center in the office and entertainment complex formally addressed as Pennsylvania Plaza and commonly known as "Penn Plaza" for the railroad station atop which the complex is located.

In 1972, the Garden's Chairman, Irving Mitchell Felt, suggested moving the Knicks and the Rangers to what was a proposed venue in the New Jersey Meadows (now completed and known as Meadowlands Sports Complex or Continental Airlines Arena.) This location now hosts its own NBA team (New Jersey Nets) and from 1981-2007, the NHL's New Jersey Devils. The NFL's New York Giants were the only established New York-named team that actually did move there, and they were later joined by the Jets. Felt's efforts fueled controversy between the Garden and New York City over Real Estate Tax. The scenario again flared in 1980 when a reported threat by the Garden supposed a similar move of popular sports teams in an effort to again challenge property tax. Efforts were ignored by city leaders.

In 1991, Garden owners spent $200 million to renovate facilities and add 89 suites. The process involved hundreds of upper-tier seats removed to make way.

In 2004-2005 Cablevision (the Garden's owner) battled with the City of New York over proposed West Side Stadium which would compete with the Garden. New stadium proposals halted; and Cablevision announced its own plans to raze the Garden, replace it with high-rise commercial buildings and build a new Garden nearby.

New arena[]

As of September 2007, the Garden's current owner, Cablevision, has plans to build a fifth Garden. If the project moved forward, a new Garden would have been built at the western end of the James Farley Post Office/ Farley Annex, on 33rd Street and Ninth Avenue across the street, which was also eyed for a western expansion of Pennsylvania Station. The James Farley Post Office is a National Historic Landmark and is named in honor of former Postmaster General and New York State Athletic/Boxing Commissioner James Farley. The Farley Garden, which would have remained home to the Rangers and the Knicks, would have featured wide concourses with stores and restaurants, luxury boxes with better sight lines for basketball and hockey games, a museum, and a hall of fame. The current Garden would have been torn down to be replaced with office buildings and perhaps a new Penn Station.  This project was budgeted to be in the range of $14 billion.  The project collapsed in 2008 when economic conditions, lack of financing, absence of political leadership and overreaching by the developers selected for the job.

In July of 2013, the city of New York extended the special use permit on the land for 10 years.   The city has stated that it wanted to build a new Penn Station and that having the arena on top would make the options very limited.  $968 million in renovations was done to the building during the off seasons of the primary tenants .  In the decision the arena management was told they had 10 years to find a new arena location.[1]  The facility that has become the leading candidate for the new MSG location is a place known as the Morgan Postal Facility which is located a few blocks southwest of the present location.  New York Governor Cuomo announced in January of 2016 that plans in place now would call for the removal of the Theater at Madison Square Garden but leave the arena portion intact.

Present operations[]

MSG Messier Night

The Garden during "Mark Messier Night", January 12, 2006.

The present Garden hosts approximately 320 events a year but it is best known as the home of the New York Knicks of the NBA and New York Rangers of the NHL. The aforementioned professional sports teams play their home games in the arena and are owned by the Garden itself. It also hosts New York Liberty (WNBA) home games (also owned by the Garden), the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus when it comes to New York City (although Continental Airlines Arena and Nassau Coliseum also host the circus each year), selected home games for the St. John's men's Red Storm (college basketball), the Big East Men's Basketball Conference Tournament, the annual pre and postseason NIT tournaments, the NBA Draft, the Millrose Games athletics meet, and almost any other kind of indoor activity that draws large audiences, such as the 2004 Republican National Convention. It has previously hosted the 1976, 1980 and 1992 Democratic National Conventions, and hosted the NFL Draft for many years (now held at Garden-leased Radio City Music Hall). In 2007, four of the eight home games for the New York Titans will be played at the garden, with the other four to be played at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

MSG hosted the 1994 NHL All-Star Game and 1998 NBA All-Star Game, three WNBA All-Star Games (1999, 2003 and 2006), and a portion of the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.

Connecticut-based World Wrestling Entertainment considers it a home arena as well, due to the fact that all generations of the McMahon family, including Vince McMahon's father and grandfather, have promoted shows at the Garden. MSG has hosted several WrestleMania and SummerSlam events, two Survivor Series events and the 2000 Royal Rumble. More WWE Championships have been won at MSG than any other arena. WWE's strong relationship with Madison Square Garden prevented competitor World Championship Wrestling (WCW) from ever having a show at the Garden. In 2005, WWE severed business ties with the arena because WWE felt that increased rental costs would prevent them from making a profit in the building. However, over a year later, World Wrestling Entertainment temporarily patched things up with MSG and the hiatus ended with a September 11, 2006 edition of WWE Raw. Though they pulled the 20th installment of SummerSlam, which would have been held at the Garden on August 26 2007. (It was held at the Continental Airlines Arena) WWE continues to make occasional appearances at MSG, and will return next for the Royal Rumble in January of 2008.

MSG is also known for its place in the history of boxing. Many of boxing's biggest fights were held at Madison Square Garden, including many of Joe Louis, the Roberto Duran-Ken Buchanan affair, and the first and second Joe Frazier-Muhammad Ali bouts. In March 1947, Herbie Kronowitz of Brooklyn and Artie Levine of Cleveland thrilled a crowd of 12,000 during a 10-round battle between the two Jewish fighters. Levine won the decision, although Kronowitz claimed that while Levine "won the decision. There was no question that I won the fight." Before promoters such as Don King and Bob Arum moved boxing to Las Vegas, Madison Square Garden was considered the mecca of boxing. The original 18½' × 18½' ring, which was brought from the second and third generation of the Garden, was officially retired on September 19, 2007 and donated to the International Boxing Hall of Fame after 82 years of service. A 20' × 20' ring replaced it beginning on October 6 of that same year.

Many large popular-music concerts in New York City take place in Madison Square Garden. Particularly famous ones include The Concert for New York City following the September 11 attacks and John Lennon's final concert appearance before his murder in 1980. The Garden usually hosts a concert each year on New Years Eve, with the Knicks and Rangers usually playing on the road.

Many musical acts released seminal live albums recorded at MSG, including Led Zeppelin, Fania All Stars, Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel, Phish, Elton John, Elvis Presley, Madonna, Mary J Blige, U2, The Rolling Stones, Britney Spears, Shakira, Justin Timberlake, NSYNC, Cher, Christina Aguilera, The Who, Beyonce, Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin, and Barbra Streisand Other artists, such as Pearl Jam, Mariah Carey, and O.A.R. and Marc Anthony have released DVDs showing their live performances at the Garden. Some of these releases, such as by Cream and Michael Jackson, show special anniversary or reunion concerts at the venue. An extensive list of live performances played at the venue is included below.

The arena is also used for other special events, including Tennis, Circus, and Wrestling events. The New York Police Academy, New York University and Yeshiva University also hold their annual graduation ceremonies at Madison Square Garden. It has become the New York site of the annual Grammy Awards (which are normally held in Los Angeles) and hosted the 2005 Country Music Association Awards (normally held in Nashville).

The Big East Conference men's basketball tournament has been held at MSG every year since 1983 making it the longest period a conference tournament has been held at a single location.


Seating in the present Madison Square Garden is arranged in five ascending levels. The lowest one is referred to as "rink-side" for hockey games or "court-side" for basketball games. Next above this is the First Promenade, followed by the Second Promenade, First Balcony and Second Balcony. The seats of these five levels originally bore the colors red, orange, yellow, green, and blue, respectively; however, this color scheme has since been changed, mainly because the "blue seats" had become synonymous with rowdy behavior by fans, particularly those attending New York Rangers hockey games. It was a common sight for Rangers fans to set fire to the jerseys of fans from visiting teams, especially those from the New York Islanders, Boston Bruins, and the Philadelphia Flyers. Rangers fans in the blue seats would defend their home from the invading hordes of visiting teams' fans at all costs. Fights were constantly occurring, and ushers would often let Rangers fans get their last punches or kicks in before hauling away the opposing fan. Today, the Garden is not as hostile for opposing fans to visit. The 400 level known as the "blue seats" still consists of many diehard fans and they are just as passionate as they were when the seats were colored. Tickets for events at MSG are hard to come by, especially for the New York Rangers who sell out nearly every single game. For hockey, the Garden seats 18,202; for basketball, 19,763; and for concerts 20,000 center stage, 19,522 end-stage. The arena features 20,976 square feet (1949 m²) of arena floor space.

Because all of the seats, except the 400 level, are in one monolithic grandstand, distance from the arena floor is significant from the ends of the arena. Also, the rows rise much more gradually than other North American arenas, which can cause impaired sightlines, especially when sitting behind tall spectators or one of the concourses.

Other venues[]

Today's Madison Square Garden is more than just the arena. Other venues at the Garden include:

  • The WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden, which seats between 2,000 and 5,600 for concerts and can also be used for meetings, stage shows, and graduation ceremonies, and was also the traditional home of the NFL Draft until 2005, when it moved to the Jacob Javits Convention Center after MSG management opposed a new stadium for the New York Jets. It also occasionally hosts major boxing matches on nights when the main arena is unavailable. No seat is more than 177 feet (54 m) from the 30-foot-by-64-foot stage. There is an 8,000-square-foot lobby at the theater. When the current Garden opened in 1968, the Theater was known as the Felt Forum, in honor of then president Irving Felt. In the early 1990s, it was renamed the Paramount, after Paramount Communications (which had previously been known as Gulf & Western), which then owned the Garden (and, at the time, Paramount Pictures.) The theater received its next name of The Theater at Madison Square Garden in the mid-90s, after Viacom bought Paramount, and sold the MSG properties to a group consisting of ITT and Cablevision, which each owned 50% of the Garden. In 1997, ITT sold their share to Cablevision, giving the cable company full control of the venue. On May 17, 2007, the theater received its current name due to a naming rights deal with Washington Mutual.
  • The 36,000-square-foot Expo Center (formerly known as "The Rotunda") is used for trade shows, cat shows, stamp shows, often in combination with the arena, banquets, and receptions.
  • A 9,500-square-foot terrace and two restaurants: the Garden Club and the Play-by-Play.

Notable firsts[]



Video of a Montreal Canadiens practice from early November 1925 which segues into the Habs playing the New York Americans in the first game at Madison Square Garden on December 15, 1925.


  1. University of Maryland Library on Patrick S. Gilmore
  2. Nat Holman: The Man, His Legacy and CCNY. "The 1951 Basketball Scandal" - The City College Library - City College of New York


External links[]

Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
New York Rangers

19261968 (MSG III)
1968–present (MSG IV)
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Barton Street Arena
Home of the
New York Americans

19251942 (MSG III)
Succeeded by
last arena