Madison Square Garden II
Full nameMadison Square Garden
LocationManhattan, New York City
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Democratic National Convention (1924)
World Series of Football (1902-1903)

Madison Square Garden was an indoor arena in New York City, the second by that name, and the second to be located at 26th Street and Madison Avenue in Manhattan. Built in 1890 and closing in 1925, the arena hosted numerous events, including boxing matches, orchestral performances, light operas and romantic comedies, the annual French Ball, both the Barnum and the Ringling circuses, and the Democratic National Convention in 1924, which nominated John W. Davis after 103 ballots. It was replaced by the third Madison Square Garden, the first to be located away from Madison Square.

History[edit | edit source]

The interior of Madison Square Garden at night, c.1905

Madison Square Garden II, as it has come to be called in retrospect, was designed by noted architect Stanford White, who kept an apartment there. In 1906 White was murdered in the Garden's rooftop restaurant by millionaire Harry Kendall Thaw over White's affair with Thaw's wife, the well-known actress Evelyn Nesbit, whom White seduced when she was 16.[1] The resulting sensational press coverage of the scandal caused Thaw's trial to be one of the first Trials of the Century.

The new building, which replaced an antiquated open-air structure that was previously a railroad passenger depot, was built by a syndicate which included J. P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, P. T. Barnum,[2] Darius Mills, James Stillman and W. W. Astor. White gave them a Beaux-Arts structure with a Moorish feel, including a minaret-like tower modeled after Giralda, the bell tower of the Cathedral of Seville [2] – soaring 32 stories – the city's second tallest building at the time – dominating Madison Square Park. It was 200 feet (61 m) by 485 feet (148 m), and the main hall, which was the largest in the world, measured 200 feet (61 m) by 350 feet (110 m), with permanent seating for 8,000 people and floor space for thousands more. It had a 1200-seat theatre, a concert hall with a capacity of 1500, the largest restaurant in the city and a roof garden cabaret.[3] The final cost for the building, which the New York Times called "one of the great institutions of the town, to be mentioned along with Central Park and the bridge of Brooklyn" was $3 million.[3]

Augustus Saint-Gaudens' statue of Diana

Topping the Garden's tower was a statue of Diana, by noted sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, which caused Madison Square Park to become known as "Diana's little wooded park". The original gilt copper statue was 18 ft (5.5 m) tall, and weighed 1,800 lb (820 kg), and spun with the wind; Saint-Gaudens had draped the statue in cloth, but this was soon blown away.[2] The statue was put in place in 1891, but was soon thought to be too large by Saint-Gaudens and White. It was removed and placed on top of a building at The World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, but the bottom half was destroyed by a fire after the close of the Exhibition, and the top half was lost. In 1893 a hollow second version of the statue, 13 ft (4.0 m) tall and made of gilded copper, replaced the original. This is now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and a copy is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.[4][2] Saint-Gaudens made several smaller variants in bronze, one of which was on display in the entryway of both Madison Square Garden III, built in 1925, and the current Madison Square Garden.

The opening of the new arena was attended by over 17,000 people – who paid up to $50 for tickets to the event – including J.P. Morgan, the Pierponts, the Whitneys and General William Tecumseh Sherman.[3]

Boxing[edit | edit source]

Boxing has a long history at Madison Square Garden. The original Garden presented boxing matches even before they were technically legal, calling them "exhibitions" or "illustrated lectures". Among the many events which were held in the new Garden were a number of significant boxing match-ups:

  • A bout between defending heavyweight champion Jess Willard and challenger Frank Moran on March 25, 1916, which brought in $152,000, the largest Garden take to that date.[3]
  • Jack Dempsey's knockout of Bill Brennan in the 12th round on December 14, 1920.[3]
  • 32 world championship fights between 1925 through 1945[3]

Football[edit | edit source]

In 1902 and 1903, the Gardens hosted the World Series of Football, which is best remembered for showcasing the very first indoor professional football games. The event involved five teams, four from New York and one from New Jersey. The 1902 contest was won by the Syracuse Athletic Club, while the Franklin Athletic Club claimed the 1903 title.

Athletics[edit | edit source]

On January 8, 1909, Matthew Maloney finished ahead of James Crowley and Sidney Hatch in an indoor marathon before 5,000 "wildly cheering" spectators held within the Garden.[5] Maloney was reported to have set a new indoor record for the event (2:54:45.4).[5]

Demolition[edit | edit source]

Despite its importance to the New York cultural scene in the early 20th century, Madison Square Garden II was never any more of a financial success than the original Garden was,[6] and the New York Life Insurance Company, which held the mortgage on it, decided to tear it down to make way for a new headquarters building, which would become the landmark Cass Gilbert-designed New York Life Building. Construction on the new building began in 1926, and was completed in 1928.

In popular culture[edit | edit source]

The tower of Madison Square Garden dominates the skyline over Madison Square and Madison Square Park in this 1908 image.

See also[edit | edit source]

Another view of the exterior

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Dworin, Caroline H. (2007-11-04). "The Girl, the Swing and a Row House in Ruins". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-19.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Federal Writers' Project. (1939) New York City Guide. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-403-02921-X (Reprinted by Scholarly Press, 1976; often referred to as WPA Guide to New York City), pp.330-333
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 "Madison Square Garden II
  4. Information page at the Met's website
  5. 5.0 5.1 "MALONEY WINS MARATHON RACE; Trinity A.C. Runner Beats Big Field in Madison Square Garden. COVERS COURSE IN 2:53:06 Winner in Rye to New York Race Scores a Popular Victory Before a Big and Wildly Cheering Crowd." (pdf). The New York Times (New York). November 9, 1909. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  6. Burrows, Edwin G. and Wallace, Mike, Gotham: A History of New York to 1989. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-19-511634-8

External links[edit | edit source]

Preceded by
San Francisco Civic Auditorium
Host of the
Democratic National Convention

Succeeded by
Sam Houston Hall

This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Madison Square Garden (1890).
The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with American Football Database, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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