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 also billed as “the world’s most famous arena.” Referred to simply as the Garden, the venue has held everything from sports games and circuses, to concerts and stand up comedians. The Garden is the spot where aspiring entertainers dream of performing. But while the arena might be one of the world’s most recognizable, it holds its fair share of secrets that very few people know about.
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 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 because 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, though, 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 constructed 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 from 1968 to 1969, when the current Madison Square Garden was opened.