It’s almost a certainty that if you ask anyone around the world with even the slightest knowledge of pop culture, they will have at least heard of Madison Square Garden. The venue is not only one of New York City’s most famous attractions, but it is also billed as “the world’s most famous arena.” Referred to most often simply as the Garden, this venue has held everything from sports games and circuses, to concerts and stand up comedians, and everything in between. The Garden is the spot aspiring entertainers dream of performing at. But while the arena might be one of the world’s most recognizable, like many places in New York City, it holds its fair share of secrets that very few people know about. Check out some of the secrets we learned on the Garden’s brand new all access tour.
1. It is the Fourth Iteration of Madison Square Garden
The first Madison Square Garden. Image from Wikimedia Commons
More likely than not, when someone mentions Madison Square Garden, they are referring to the current building at 4 Pennsylvania Plaza in Midtown Manhattan, but most people don’t realize that the current building is actually the fourth iteration to don the name. The first Madison Square Garden was built in 1879 just north of Madison Square Park. The building sat 10,000 spectators and was used frequently for circuses until it was demolished in 1890 due to the fact that the venue had no roof, making it difficult to hold events in inclement weather.
The first iteration of Madison Square Garden was replaced by a new arena in the same location in 1890. The new venue was a significant location in New York City’s cultural scene and was rocked by a scandal when the building’s architect, Stanford White, was murdered in the building by Henry Kendall Thaw for his affair with Thaw’s wife, prominent actress Evelyn Nesbit. A third Madison Square Garden was built in 1925, the first to be set at a different location. It held over 18,000 people and was built by boxing promoter Tex Rickard, who used the building frequently for fights. The building was demolished in 1968-1969, when the current Madison Square Garden was opened.