Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden Page
Madison Square Garden
The World’s Most Famous Arena

Posted November 2021

The Garden is on its 4th location in New York City:
  • February 11, 1968: Current location opened
  • Renovated in 1991 and in 2014
  • Capacity:
    • Basketball – 19,812
    • Ice hockey / Lacrosse – 18,006
    • Concerts – 20,000
    • Boxing – 20,789
    • The Theater at Madison Square Garden – 5,600
  • Events per year: approximately 320
  • Opening on February 11, 1968, the MSG IV is now considered to be the oldest, and most active major sporting facility in the New York metropolitan area.
  • MSG wasn't directly named after the 4th President, James Madison. It adopted the name of the Madison Square, a park located between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue at 23rd Street – the location of MSG's first structure.
  • MSG IV was built after the Pennsylvania Railroad tore down the above-ground portions of Pennsylvania Station. The new structure was one of the first of its kind to be built above the platforms of an active railroad station.

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission was created in 1965, following the public outcry after the destruction of Pennsylvania Station to make way for the construction of the current Madison Square Garden.

Other Facts:

  • The first Madison Square Garden was built before James Naismith invented the game of basketball
  • In 1879, the first artificial ice rink in North America was opened at the Garden (MSG I)
  • Elvis Presley made entertainment history in 1972 by becoming the first entertainer to sell out four consecutive shows at Madison Square Garden
  • John Lennon's final concert appearance was at Madison Square Garden, just before his murder in 1980
  • Sir Elton John has played 62 concerts at the MSG, more than any other artist
  • The Garden hosted the Stanley Cup Finals and NBA Finals simultaneously on two occasions: in 1972 and 1994
  • Michael Jordan had his first game in the professional field there against the Knicks. He was given a standing ovation for his thirty-three point win
  • MSG is known for its place in the history of boxing. Many of boxing's biggest fights were held at Madison Square Garden, including the first Muhammad Ali – Joe Frazier bout. Before promoters such as Don King and Bob Arum moved boxing to Las Vegas, Madison Square Garden was considered the mecca of boxing.
  • In 1990, Andrew Dice Clay became the only comedian in history to sell out Madison Square Garden two nights in a row.
  • Justin Bieber claims the record for selling out Madison Square Garden the fastest of any artist. Two shows for his 2012 Believe tour sold out in 30 seconds. The prior fastest sellout record was Taylor Swift in 2009, when she sold out the venue in 60 seconds.

Madison Square Garden on Google Map
Madison Square Garden is in Midtown Manhattan

First Madison Square Garden
First Madison Square Garden Site
This was P.T. Barnum's Grand Roman Hippodrome

First Madison Square Garden
The First Madison Square Garden
The site on which it stood had been the southern terminus of the New York and Harlem Railroad, filling the entire block between Madison Avenue and Fourth Avenue (now Park Avenue South), from 26th to 27th Streets. In 1873, Cornelius Vanderbilt, who owned the railroad, leased the depot to the legendary Phineas Taylor Barnum, who tore down most of the old building, transformed what was left into an amphitheater and called it the "Monster Classical and Geological Hippodrome." Beneath a tent that accommodated 15,000, he presented extravaganzas that ranged from chariot races to waltzing elephants.

Barnum closed down on Feb. 27, 1875, and the space was leased to Patrick Gilmore, a bandleader and showman who converted it into a spectacular space bursting with fountains, statues and exotic plants. He called it Gilmore's Garden. In 1877, the waltzing elephants were replaced by prancing poodles, as Gilmore presented the first Westminster Kennel Club Show. For the next couple of years, there were concerts on summer evenings, horticultural exhibitions, charity balls - and walking races, a portent of things to come.

In 1879, Gilmore's lease expired and on May 22, The New York Times reported that after extensive renovations and at the request of the Vanderbilts, "Gilmore's Garden will hereafter be known as the 'Madison-Square Garden.'" Together with its original hyphen, it made its public debut nine days later with a concert by a 60-piece band.

The Garden popped with pop culture, programs "suited to the demand of most pleasure-seekers in Summer, who do not wish to be called on for any serious mental effort while taking their amusements," said The Times. What followed were flower shows; wrestling matches between such stalwarts as Edwin Bibby, the champion of England, and Andre Cristol, "the Tiger of the Pyrenees"; billiard contests; political rallies; and an exhibition of "fine American-bred Durham cattle and fancy sheep."

There were also six-day "pedestrian competitions," international race-walking events that drew capacity crowds of 10,000 around the clock, but the Garden was best known as a venue for bicycle races. MSG's position as the nation's preeminent racing arena gave rise to a form of team cycling called "the Madison," which even today is part of the Olympic Games.

The original Garden was razed in 1889. It was replaced on the same site by MSG II

Madison Square Garden I:
The first Madison Square Garden had no roof to it, therefore it was deemed ineffective because of all of the inclement weather. Madison Square Garden I really wasn't made popular by any particular events as mentioned before it was mainly used for cycling, which at the time it was biggest and most popular sport. Vanderbilt eventually sold Madison Square Garden I to JP Morgan, with him having the intent to knock it down and build a stadium with a roof. JP Morgan successfully completed the purchase and redesigned a new Madison Square Garden that was enclosed and opened in 1890.

Madison Square Garden II :
Madison Square Garden II opened in 1890. The arena was enclosed unlike the first one, and it was one of the tallest buildings in New York at the time. It was also known for its iconic 32 story tower that was modeled after the bell tower of the Cathedral of Seville.

On top of the 32 story tower was a statue of Diana, who was the Goddess of hunt and moon. The main sports were more of the same as the original Madison Square Garden with cycling being the most popular. Other events that took place at Madison Square Garden II were operas and the 1924 National Democratic convention. Even though Madison Square Garden II was considered a cultural standout in New York it didn't make much of a profit which caused the demolition and rebuilding of the third Madison Square Garden in 1925, where Madison Square Garden really took off.

Sevilla Cathedral
MSG II was modeled after the Sevilla Cathedral in Spain:
The tower is called The Giralda


Madison Square Garden II
Madison Square Garden II
The first Madison Square Garden was demolished in 1889. Vanderbilt, citing lack of profitability of the venue, sold the land to a consortium of esteemed buyers including J.P. Morgan, P. T. Barnum, and Andrew Carnegie. By 1890, a new Madison Square Garden opened with a Beaux-Arts Moorish design by the young celebrated society architect Stanford White.

The most distinctive feature of the second Madison Square Garden was its tower, modeled on the Giralda in Spain, on top of which stood a statue of Diana by August Saint-Gaudens. Also notable was a rooftop garden, all the rage for entertainment in the Gilded Age, which became the site of Stanford White‘s murder at the hands of Harry K. Thaw, a jealous rival in a love triangle gone wrong.

The Second Madison Square Garden was also the site of the 1924 presidential convention, which was the first time a woman was nominated to be Vice-President of the United States. The second iteration of Madison Square Garden would be demolished just a year later.

New York Life Insurance held the mortgage on the second Madison Square Garden, and in 1923, the company decided to demolish the arena and build their new headquarters at Madison Avenue and 26th Street. The Cass Gilbert-designed headquarters with the gold pyramidal roof still stands today, next to the MetLife buildings.

Madison Square Garden itself was then relocated to the west side, on 8th Avenue between 49th and 50th streets.

New York Life Insurance on Google Map New York Life Insurance
New York Life Insurance Headquarters Skyscraper
It was Built on the Madison Square Garden I and II site: 51 Madison Avenue, New York NY 10010


Madison Square Garden III
Madison Square Garden III
Only fancy on the inside


When colorful New York boxing promoter George (Tex) Rickard discovered in 1924 that the old Madison Square Garden was to be razed to make way for a skyscraper, he assembled a team of businessmen he called his "600 millionaires," set up financing, and broke ground for a new Madison Square Garden on January 9, 1925 on a new location. The site selected for the third Garden was Eighth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets. Existing trolley car barns were torn down to make room for the new arena, which was constructed in only 249 days.

Madison Square Garden III
It was 200 feet by 375 feet. It had three tiers of seats and could seat 18,500 for boxing.

  • November 24, 1925, the first event was a six-day bicycle race
  • December 6, the first professional basketball game was played in Madison Square Garden III with the original Celtics defeating the Washington Palace Five 35-31.
  • December 8, the first boxing match at the new Garden saw flyweight champion Jack McDermott upset by Johnny Erickson.
  • December 11, 17,575 fans paid to see Paul Berlenbach out-point Jack Delaney and retain his light-heavyweight title.
  • December 15, the official opening of Garden III, The Montreal Canadiens defeated the New York Americans 3-1. For the record, the first goal ever scored in the Garden came off the stick of New York American winger Shorty Green.

After travelling to Montreal with Damon Runyon, Rickard was convinced New Yorkers would embrace the fast, rugged sport and installed ice in his building. He rented the rink to the New York Americans for a season and, after seeing their popularity swell, realized New York could support two teams and hired young Conn Symthe to create a rival to the Americans. On November 17, 1926, the New York Rangers won their first game in the Garden by defeating the Montreal Maroons 1-0, and another hockey dynasty was born.

Under the leadership of Rickard and, later General John Reed Kilpatrick, Ned Irish and Irving Mitchell Felt, the Garden steadily increased in stature and built its reputation as the most famous and most exciting arena in the world.

Appearing in Madison Square Garden was considered so important that many star athletes suffered what came to be known as "Garden-itis," the sports equivalent of stage fright. Among the highlights in the 40-year life span of Garden III were:

  • The appearance in the Finnish-American A.C. Games on January 6, 1925 of Paavo Nurmi, winner of five Olympic gold medals
  • The debut of the New York Rangers, who defeated the Montreal Maroons, 1-0, on November 17, 1926
  • The 1932 rally for Democratic Presidential nominee Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which drew 22,000. The future President's appearance at the Garden continued a tradition begun in 1892 by Grover Cleveland and followed by virtually every presidential candidate since.
  • The first college basketball doubleheader on December 29, 1934
  • The first National Invitational Tournament in 1938
  • Sonia Henie's Hollywood Ice Review attended by more than 15,000 in 1938
  • Gene Autry and the rodeo, which attracted nearly 13,000 spectators in 1940
  • The Garden debut of the Knicks in 1946
  • Mike Todd's legendary "Around the World in 80 Days" anniversary party on October 17, 1957, (with Marilyn Monroe riding an elephant and Elizabeth Taylor hosting)
  • President John F. Kennedy's birthday party in May 1962.


The famous rendition of "Happy Birthday" sung by Marilyn Monroe to John F. Kennedy in 1962 was at the Garden III

Madison Square Garden

Current Garden:
In February 1959, former automobile manufacturer Graham-Paige purchased a 40% interest in the Madison Square Garden and later gained control. In November 1960, Graham-Paige president Irving Mitchell Felt purchased from the Pennsylvania Railroad the rights to build at Penn Station. To build the new facility, the above-ground portions of the original Pennsylvania Station were torn down. The new structure was one of the first of its kind to be built above the platforms of an active railroad station.

Public outcry over the demolition of the Pennsylvania Station structure—an outstanding example of Beaux-Arts architecture—led to the creation of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Madison Square Garden is the last of the NBA and NHL arenas to not be named after a corporate sponsor

Old Penn Station
Old Penn Station
Demolished to make room: In the mid-60s it was a gorgeous Beaux Arts station.

Madison Square Garden has been ranked as one of the 10 most expensive stadium venues ever built

MSG Seating Chart Knicks
Seating Chart (Knicks)
Over the last few years MSG has completed major upgrades to the entire arena bringing it on par with the most advanced and fan friendly arenas anywhere in the world. MSG is located in Manhattan on Seventh Avenue between 31st and 33rd Streets. The MSG arena is easily accessed by taxi in just a few minutes from any hotel in Manhattan and is located just above Penn Station which is a major train hub for the area. In addition to being the home court for the New York Knicks and home ice for the New York Rangers, The Madison Square Garden hosts all the top concerts that come to New York City.

MSG Sphere
Coming to Las Vegas 2023 - The MSG Sphere
4 Pennsylvania Plaza
New York, NY 10001