Eight blocks from Madison Square, where the
original version was located, this 20,000-seat arena,
the home of the New York Knicks, Rangers and
Liberty, is the fourth building and the third location
to bear the name. Joe Frazier defeated
Mohammed Ali here March 8,
1971; Nadia Comaneci scored a perfect 10 on March 28,
Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra,
Bruce Springsteen, Madonna and Pope John Paul II
all per- formed here; the Grateful Dead played here
52 times, a record broken by Elton John in 2001.
John Lennon's last performance was here, as a
surprise guest at an Elton John concert, in 1974. The
Democratic conventions of 1976, 1980 and 1992 were
held here; the Republicans came here in 2004 to
capitalize on September 11.
Many people think of Madison Square Garden, however,
as one of New York City's greatest architectural crimes--
because it was built by tearing down the old
Station, a glorious 1910 structure modeled on the
Roman Baths of Caracalla, considered to be architect
Charles McKim's greatest masterpiece. (Ironically,
McKim partner Stanford White's greatest work was
the second Madison Square Garden, demolished
in 1925.) Protests by architects and preservationists
did not prevent the station's 1963 destruction--though
the loss did help spark landmark laws to protect other
Statues of eagles from the station can be
seen on the east side of the Garden; there used to be 22
of them, all of them by sculptor Adolph A. Weinman,
who also carved statues representing Night and Day that
accompanied a 7-foot-wide clock at the station's
32nd Street entrance.
In the base- ment of the Garden is the new Penn Station,
one of Manhattan's two major rail terminals--along with
a 48-lane bowling alley. Architect
Louis I. Kahn died of
a heart attack at the station in 1974--his unidentified
body remaining in the morgue for several days.
The Gar- den's office tower is the location
of Disney/ABC radio flagship WABC--this is where
Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, among other
right-wing broadcasters, have done their shows.
WPLJ radio is based here too.