Madison Square Garden
| 46 Pennsylvania Plaza|
Manhattan, New York
|Opened||February 11, 1968|
|Owner:||Madison Square Garden Inc.|
|Operator:||Madison Square Garden Inc.|
| New York Knicks (NBA) (1968-present)|
New York Liberty (WNBA) (1997-present)
St. John's (NCAA) (1969-present)
The Madison Square Garden is a sports arena located in Manhattan, New York City, New York, is the the home of the NBA's New York Knicks and the WNBA's New York Liberty. Since it first opened its doors in 1879, Madison Square Garden has embraced generations of fans who have come to express their pride and passion for teams, athletes, performers, and statesmen. Currently home to the New York Knicks, New York Liberty, New York Rangers, and MSG Networks, The Garden is comprised of several venues: the Arena, Theater, Expo Center, The Play-by-Play and Club Restaurants, and The Garden terrace.
The current Garden -- located between 31st and 33rd Streets and Seventh and Eighth Avenues on Manhattan's West Side -- is the fourth building (third site) to be named Madison Square Garden.
Garden I was located at Madison Square: 26th Street and Madison Avenue. The building, which had 28-foot walls without a roof, was named "Madison Square Garden" by William Vanderbilt on May 31, 1879, and stood until 1889. Early programs included annual presentations of the National Horse Show, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and Barnum and Bailey’s Circus. In 1882, John L. Sullivan became the first heavyweight champion to box at The Garden. Since it ceased to exist three years before the invention of basketball, it's safe to assume no basketball games were ever played there.
Garden II was constructed on the site of Garden I, opening on June 16, 1890. Designed by renowned architect Stanford White, it contained an 8,000-seat main arena, 1,500-seat concert hall, 1,200-seat theatre, and the world's largest indoor swimming pool. The Spanish Renaissance-style structure was topped by its most famous feature: a 32-story tower and roof garden on which stood Augustus Saint-Gauden's gold statue of Diana, Goddess of the Hunt.
Garden II hosted a sporting card heavy with boxing, wrestling, six-day bicycle races, and horse shows, along with national events such as the 1924 Democratic National Convention. Movie buffs will recall that in Orson Welles' 1941 classic “Citizen Kane”, Charles Foster Kane's acceptance of the New York gubernatorial nomination takes place at Garden II (although it wasn't actually filmed there). Garden II closed with a boxing card on May 5, 1925.
Garden III -- the "Old Garden" -- was built in just 249 days at 49th Street and Eighth Avenue under the watchful eyes of promoter Tex Rickard and architect Thomas Lamb. The fabled 18,000-seat arena opened with a six-day bicycle race on November 24, 1925, and for 43 years was America's premier sports and entertainment showplace. Ironically, Rickard did not live to see the blossoming of Garden III, as he suffered a fatal appendicitis attack on January 6, 1929.
The first basketball game played at the new Garden took place on Sunday, December 6, 1925. The Original Celtics defeated the Washington Palace Five, 35-31. At the conclusion of the game team captains John Beckman of the Celtics and Ray Kennedy of the Palace Club, were arrested for breaking the Sabbath.
Sports - especially basketball, hockey, boxing and track - would be the lifeblood of the Old Garden. The Garden was granted a franchise to operate a professional hockey team in 1926 (the New York Rangers), following the initial success of the New York Americans, who played in The Garden during the 1925-26 season. In 1934, On December 29, 1934, 16,188 spectators watched the first intersectional college basketball doubleheader, when NYU defeated Notre Dame and Westminster College (PA) edged St. John's. In 1946, The Garden was granted a charter franchise (the New York Knicks) in the new Basketball Association of America, the forerunner to the National Basketball Association (NBA).
The Garden also hosted entertainment extravaganzas such as the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus; the Gene Autry Rodeo; star-studded spectacles like Mike Todd's 1957 anniversary party for his film “Around the World in 80 Days;” and President John F. Kennedy's 1962 birthday party, which featured Marilyn Monroe's breathless version of "Happy Birthday". The last event ever was the Westminster Dog Show, February 12-13, 1968.
On November 3, 1960, Garden president Irving Mitchell Felt announced plans to construct a new Madison Square Garden - Garden IV. The Pennsylvania Railroad had earlier made the decision to demolish the above-ground portions of Pennsylvania Station and sell the “air rights” above. The Garden Corporation obtained these coveted air rights in 1961. Above-ground demolition of Penn Station began on October 28, 1963, with concrete poured for the new Garden, to rise between 31st and 33rd Street from Seventh to Eighth Avenues, starting on May 1, 1964.
Garden IV opened over the course of 1967-1968 as a glittering sports and entertainment showplace. The distinctive design featured a circular, cable-suspended roof above a 19,000-seat arena. The complex also included the 5,000-seat Felt Forum, a 48-lane Bowling Center, 500-seat cinema, Hall of Fame Club, National Art Museum of Sport, 50,000-square foot Exposition Rotunda, and a 29-story office building (2 Penn Plaza) attached by a pedestrian mall.
The first element of the “New Garden” to open its doors was the Bowling Center, on October 30, 1967. On November 26, 1967, the Felt Forum opened with a performance of the Welsh and Scots Guards. The arena opened on February 11, 1968, when Bob Hope and Bing Crosby hosted a special salute to the USO.
The building has since hosted many memorable events. In 1969, MSG Network – the first regional cable network – was born; the studios and control rooms were built right in The Garden. The New York Knicks won their first NBA Championship on May 8, 1970 and on March 8, 1971 The Garden hosted Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in “The Fight of the Century.” George Harrison presented the Concert for Bangladesh on August 1, 1971 and Led Zeppelin took the stage in July of 1973 (excerpts of which were used for the movie “The Song Remains the Same”). Frank Sinatra presented his “Main Event” concert on October 12, 1974 (a live television broadcast and album) and Nadia Comaneci scored her first perfect “10” in the first American Cup on March 28, 1976.
During the Democratic National Convention in July of 1976, Jimmy Carter was nominated as the party’s presidential candidate. The Grateful Dead played their first of 52 total shows played at the Garden on January 7, 1979. On May 8, 1979, the Rangers stunned the New York Islanders in the conference finals and the “No Nukes” show, featuring Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen, and James Taylor, took place on September 19, 1979. On October 3, 1979, Pope John Paul II touched the hearts of many Americans when he selected The Garden as one of his U. S. stops. In August 1980, President Jimmy Carter received his second presidential nomination here and two years later, on July 1, 1982, the Unification Church’s Reverend Sun Myung Moon conducted a group wedding for 2,200 couples. Other memorable musical events in the 1980’s included opera great Luciano Pavarotti performing on September 16, 1986 and Atlantic Records celebrating its 40th Anniversary Concert here on May 14, 1988.
In 1992, the Democratic National Convention returned and kicked off Bill Clinton’s successful run for President. The Garden was selected to host the NHL All-Star Game in 1994 and the Rangers won the Stanley Cup on June 14, [[1994. That same month, the Knicks defeated the Indiana Pacers in Game 7 of the Conference Finals to advance to the NBA Finals. The New York Liberty joined the Garden family in October, 1996, when the Garden was selected as one of eight charter members of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). The Liberty advanced to the first of four WNBA finals in seven years in 1997 (1999, 2000 and 2002). On February 26, 1997, The Garden hosted the Grammy Awards (the first time the Grammy’s were broadcast from an arena) and the awards show returned again on February 23, 2003. In 1998, The Garden was selected to host the NBA All-Star Game and later that year, MSG Network continued to make sports history with its first HDTV telecast on October 27, 1998 (of a Rangers vs. Buffalo Sabres game).
Evander Holyfield faced Lennox Lewis for the heavyweight championship on March 13, 1999. Later that year, The Garden was selected to host the first WNBA All-Star Game in 1999 (and again in 2003). Barbra Streisand chose The Garden to play her final two East Coast shows in September, 2000. The historic Concert for New York City took place on October 20, 2001 and on November 28, 2001, Elton John set a new record for most shows in the building – with his 53rd concert. The final two (of ten) Bruce Springsteen shows at The Garden, on June 29 and July 1, 2000 were featured in an HBO concert special and on a live album in 2001. The Rolling Stones performed a live HBO show for the “Licks” tour on January 18, 2003. The Garden also hosted the Republican National Convention in August 2004.
Today, the Garden is one of America’s most famous landmarks, a uniquely diverse sports and entertainment facility drawing over four million fans a year from New York City, the United States, and around the world. In addition to new events added each year, The Garden has hosted the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show since 1880, the Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus since 1881, the Millrose Games since 1914, the Golden Gloves Tournament since 1928, and the annual Big East College Basketball Tournament since 1983. All of these performers, athletes and statesmen take the stage in the historic tradition of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt; Babe Ruth; Rudolph Valentino; Sonja Henie; Charles Lindbergh; Bob Hope; Jack Dempsey; Frank Sinatra; Marilyn Monroe; Elizabeth Taylor; Elvis Presley; Richard Pryor; Walt Frazier; Bill Bradley; Rod Gilbert; Gordie Howe; Muhammad Ali; Larry Bird; Martina Navratilova; Eammon Coughlan; Michael Jordan; Patrick Ewing; Madonna; Paul McCartney; Mark Messier; and Wayne Gretzky, –all of whom have “played” Madison Square Garden.
The New York Liberty basketball team is in its 11th year of operation with the 2007 season. Madison Square Garden, L.P. is owned by Cablevision Systems Corporation, and includes the New York Knicks (NBA); the New York Rangers (NHL); the New York Liberty (WNBA); the Hartford Wolfpack (American Hockey League); MSG Entertainment; MSG Media, which is comprised of MSG and FSN New York; and the Madison Square Garden arena complex, located in the heart of the New York metropolitan area.