Madison Square Garden on the move

Ever wonder why it’s called Madison Square Garden—when it’s not near Madison Square? 

The current Garden, on 33rd Street, is the fourth incarnation of New York’s premier sports and entertainment arena.

MSGfirstThe first, at right, opened in 1879. Occupying an old railroad depot at Madison Avenue and 26th Street, it became a successful, 10,000-seat venue that featured boxing, bike racing, and ice hockey.

A decade later it was torn down. Famed architect Stanford White designed the second MSG in 1890, below left. This beautiful, 8,000-seat Moorish structure sported cupolas, arches, and a 32-story tower that made it the second tallest building in the city. 


 Madison Square Garden II’s rooftop restaurant became a chic place for New York’s Gilded Age elite to socialize. It’s also where White was murdered in 1906.

He was shot point-blank by Harry Thaw, the jealous husband of a teenage showgirl the 40-ish White had been having an affair with.

By 1925, White’s palace met the wrecking ball, and the third MSG was completed at 50th Street and Eighth Avenue. This arena was home to the Rangers, Knicks, and lots of boxing matches.

Outdated by the late sixties, it was replaced in 1968 by the fourth and current Garden, built on the hallowed grounds of the original Penn Station.

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15 Responses to “Madison Square Garden on the move”

  1. ezuall Says:

    I just wanted to say that I enjoyed this post, and the entire blog. Keep it up!

  2. petey Says:

    i have a very early memory of seeing the circus at MSG III

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    Thank you. I remember seeing the circus at MSG IV a few times.

    And of course, the old Felt Forum! I always thought it must be entirely made of felt, but turns out it’s named after an MSG exec named Irving Felt.

  4. Joe R Says:

    Re MSG III, don’t forget the six day bicycle races.

  5. PizzaBagel Says:

    I went to the circus back in the late ’60s. My most vivid memory? The pre-show menagerie, at which a young child stuck his hand into a giraffe’s mouth and came out full of spit!

    I remember my father taking me to a stamp expo at MSG III, also in that era.

    In 1971 I represented my district in the city-wide spelling bee. (Needless to say, I lost.) It was a day or two after the Ali-Frazier fight, and the ring was still set up behind a curtain on the stage for us participants. Some of them (not me) clambered around on it during a break in the competition.

  6. The new Madison Square Garden on Eighth Avenue | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] shows what was then the “new” Madison Square Garden on Eighth Avenue and 49th Street—the third incarnation of New York’s iconic arena, and the first one located no where near Madison Square.It moved here in 1925, and for the next […]

  7. Jack Hochberg Says:

    I was at the last hockey game played at the 8th Avenue Garden. It was an afternoon game with the Detroit Red Wings that ended in a tie. The Garden invited a large contingent of “Old Timers” to play an exhibition game prior to the Ranger game.
    Jack H.

  8. The “great dog show” thrills the Gilded Age city | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] dog show was held in May 1877 at Gilmore’s Gardens, an exhibition space on the site of the future Madison Square Garden at Madison Avenue and 27th Street. It was a huge hit with the […]

  9. Going for a swim at Madison Square Garden | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] circa-1890 arena, designed by Stanford White, with the new pool (above) was […]

  10. One of the last remnants of the old Penn Station | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Constructed two years before Penn Station opened and designed by station architects McKim, Mead, and White, it has the same granite facade as Penn Station did, now gray with grime and soot in the shadow of Madison Square Garden. […]

  11. The 1905 hotel named for a Gilded Age beauty | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Evelyn hotel is also just down the street from where Madison Square Garden once stood. Designed by White, this second incarnation of the Garden had a breezy rooftop that was […]

  12. Madison Square Garden, luminous by moonlight | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] not today’s MSG in the gritty West 30s. This is the second of the four versions of Madison Square Garden, the Moorish-Beaux Arts arena designed by Stanford White on 26th Street and Madison Avenue in […]

  13. huntleyfilmarchives Says:

    Lovely pictures! This film of White’s MSG dates from around 1912

  14. Madison Square Garden, luminous by moonlight | Real Estate Marketplace Says:

    […] not today’s MSG in the gritty West 30s. This is the second of the four versions of Madison Square Garden, the Moorish-Beaux Arts arena designed by Stanford White on 26th Street and Madison Avenue in […]

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