Imagine if every summer, the interior of the current Madison Square Garden was transformed into an enormous swimming pool, with diving platforms, seats for spectators, and a 25-foot waterfall.
Pretty cool, right? A pool like this actually did exist during the summer of 1921—host to swim competitions and diving shows, and open to the general public too.
The pool was the idea of boxing promoter Tex Rickard, who leased the Garden, then on Madison Avenue and 26th Street, for a series of Friday night fights.
“In addition to a full slate of boxing matches, Rickard’s plan for the Garden included remodeling the structure, adding seating capacity (bringing it to 13,000 seats), and turning the giant amphitheater into the world’s largest indoor swimming pool during the summer months,” states Tex Rickard: Boxing’s Greatest Promoter.
Unfortunately the pool didn’t last much longer. Rickard gave up his promoter’s license after being accused of improper behavior with a couple of teenage girls.
That didn’t end his career though. He helped finance the creation of a new Madison Square Garden on 50th Street and Eighth Avenue, which opened in 1925.
The circa-1890 arena, designed by Stanford White, with the new pool (above) was demolished.