Madison Square Garden (1925)

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Madison Square Garden III
Madison Square Garden III.jpg
hand-colored postcard
Full name Madison Square Garden
Location New York City
Coordinates 40°45′45″N 73°59′16″W / 40.7624°N 73.9877°W / 40.7624; -73.9877Coordinates: 40°45′45″N 73°59′16″W / 40.7624°N 73.9877°W / 40.7624; -73.9877
Owner Tex Rickard
Operator Tex Rickard
Capacity Basketball: 18,496
Ice hockey: 15,925
Construction
Opened 1925 (89 years ago) (1925)
Closed 1968 (46 years ago) (1968)
Demolished 1968–1969
Architect Thomas W. Lamb
Tenants
New York Rangers (NHL) (1926–1968)
New York Knicks (NBA) (1946–1968)
New York Americans (NHL) (1925–1942)
NCAA Men's D-I Basketball Tournament Finals (1943–1948, 1950)
National Invitation Tournament (1938–1967)

Madison Square Garden (MSG III) was an indoor arena in New York City, the third bearing that name. It was built in 1925 and closed in 1968, and was located on Eighth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets in Manhattan, on the site of the city's trolley-car barns.[1] It was on the west side of Eighth Avenue. It was the first Garden that was not located near Madison Square. MSG III was the home of the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League and the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association, and also hosted numerous boxing matches, concerts, and other events.

Groundbreaking[edit]

Ground breaking on the third Madison Square Garden took place on January 9, 1925.[1] Designed by the noted theater architect Thomas W. Lamb, it was built at the cost of $4.75 million in 249 days by boxing promoter Tex Rickard, who assembled backers he called his "600 millionaires" to fund the project.[1] The new arena was dubbed "The House That Tex Built."[2] In contrast to the ornate towers of Stanford White's second Garden, the exterior of MSG III was a simple box. Its most distinctive feature was the ornate marquee above the main entrance, with its seemingly endless abbreviations (Tomw., V/S, Rgrs, Tonite, Thru, etc.) Even the name of the arena was abbreviated, to "Madison Sq. Garden".

The arena, which opened on December 15, 1925, was 200 feet (61 m) by 375 feet (114 m), with seating on three levels, and a maximum capacity of 18,496 spectators for boxing.[1] It had poor sight lines, especially for hockey, and fans sitting virtually anywhere behind the first row of the side balcony could count on having some portion of the ice obstructed. The fact that there was poor ventilation and that smoking was permitted often led to a haze in the upper portions of the Garden.

In its history, Madison Square Garden III was managed by Rickard, General John Reed Kilpatrick, Ned Irish and Irving Mitchell Felt.[1] It was eventually replaced by the current Madison Square Garden.

Events[edit]

Sports[edit]

Boxing[edit]

Boxing was Madison Square Garden III's principal claim to fame. The first bout took place on December 8, 1925, a week before the arena's official opening. On January 17, 1941, 23,190 people witnessed Fritzie Zivic's successful welterweight title defense against Henry Armstrong, still the largest crowd for any of the Gardens.

Hockey[edit]

The 1932-33 team picture of New York Rangers, a prime tenant of the 50th St. MSG from 1926 to 1968
1925-26 New York Americans program cover

The New York Rangers, owned by the Garden's owner Tex Rickard, got their name from a play on words involving his name: Tex's Rangers. However, the Rangers were not the first NHL team to play at the Garden; the New York Americans had begun play in 1925 – and in fact, officially opened the Garden by losing to the Montreal Canadiens, 3-1[1] – and were so tremendously successful at the gate that Rickard wanted his own team as well. The Rangers were founded in 1926, playing their first game in the Garden on November 16, 1926,[1] and both teams played at the Garden until the Americans suspended operations in 1942 due to World War II. In the meantime, the Rangers had usurped the Americans' commercial success with their own success on the ice, winning three Stanley Cups between 1928 and 1940. The refusal of the Garden's management to allow the resurrection of the Americans after the war was one of the popular theories underlying the Curse of 1940, which supposedly prevented the Rangers from winning the Stanley Cup again until 1994.

The New York Rovers, a farm team of the Rangers, also played in the Garden on Sunday afternoons, while the Rangers played on Wednesday and Sunday nights.[1]

Basketball[edit]

The first professional basketball game was played in the 50th Street Garden on December 6, 1925, nine days before the arena officially opened. It pitted the Original Celtics against the Washington Palace Five; the Celtics won 35-31.[1] The New York Knicks debuted there in 1946, although if there was an important college game, they played in the 69th Regiment Armory.[1] MSG III also hosted the NBA All-Star Game in 1954, 1955 and 1968.

In 1931, a college basketball triple header to raise money for Mayor Jimmy Walker's Unemployment Relief Fund was highly successful. In 1934, Ned Irish began promoting a successful series of college basketball double headers at the Garden featuring a mix of local and national schools. MSG III began hosting the National Invitation Tournament annually in 1938, and hosted seven NCAA men's basketball championship finals between 1943 and 1950. On February 28, 1940, Madison Square Garden hosted the first televised basketball games in a Fordham-Pitt and Georgetown-NYU doubleheader. A point shaving scandal involving games played at the Garden led the NCAA to reduce its use of the Garden, and caused some schools, including 1950 NCAA and NIT Champion City College of New York (CCNY), to be banned from playing at the Garden.[3]

Wrestling[edit]

Capitol Wrestling Corporation -- along with its successor, the World Wide Wrestling Federation -- promoted professional wrestling at the Garden during its last two decades. Toots Mondt and Jess McMahon owned CWC, which was initially based around tag team wrestling. Throughout the 1950's and 60's, Mondt and McMahon were successful at promoting ethnic heroes of Puerto Rican or Italian descent.

Two especially notable events in wrestling history took place at MSG III. On May 17, 1963, Bruno Sammartino was put over "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers to become the inaugural WWWF World Heavyweight Champion. On November 19, 1957, the Dr. Jerry Graham & Dick the Bruiser vs. Edouard Carpentier & Argentina Rocca main event led to a race riot involving the largely Italian and Puerto Rican fans of Carpentier and Rocca. After the riot, New York City nearly banned professional wrestling and children under the age of 14 were prohibited from attending.[4]

Other entertainment[edit]

The Circus[edit]

While the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus had debuted at the second Garden in 1919, the third Garden saw large numbers of performances. The circus was so important to the Garden that when the Rangers played in the 1928 Stanley Cup Finals, the team was forced to play all games on the road, which did not prevent the Rangers from winning the series. The circus would continue to perform as often as three times daily throughout the life of the third Garden, repeatedly knocking the Rangers out of the Garden at playoff time.[5]

The circus acrobatics included acts in the rings as well as on the high wire and trapeze. One dramatic act which was only performed in the Garden, and not taken on the road with the traveling circus, involved Blinc Candlin, a Hudson, New York fireman, who rode his antique 1880s high-wheel bicycle on the high wire every season for over two decades beginning in the 1910s and running well through the 1930s.

Dog Show[edit]

The Garden continued to host The Westminster Kennel Club's annual dog show. This championship is the second longest running U.S. sporting event (behind only the Kentucky Derby).

Notable events[edit]

Anti-Nazi rally in MSG III (March 15, 1937)

Demolition[edit]

Demolition commenced in 1968 after the opening of the New Garden. It finished up in early 1969. When the third Madison Square Garden was torn down, there was a proposal to build the world's tallest building on the site, prompting a major battle in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood where it was located. Ultimately, the debate resulted in strict height restrictions in the area. The space remained a parking lot until 1989 when Worldwide Plaza, designed by David Childs of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill,opened on the site of the old Garden and French Polyclinic Hospital across the street.

In popular culture[edit]

Bulldogging champion Cowboy Morgan Evans competition chit at Madison Square Garden's 1928 World Series Rodeo

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Madison Square Garden III" on Ballparks.com
  2. ^ Schumach, Murray (February 14, 1968).Next and Last Attraction at Old Madison Square Garden to Be Wreckers' Ball, The New York Times
  3. ^ Nat Holman: The Man, His Legacy and CCNY."The 1951 Basketball Scandal" - The City College Library - City College of New York.
  4. ^ "Wrestling Observer Newsletter, February 3 1997". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved April 10, 2014. 
  5. ^ Even at the fourth Garden, games would sometimes have to begin as late as 9:00 p.m. to accommodate the circus.
  6. ^ "From Haven to Home" Library of Congress exhibit.
  7. ^ Billboard Music Week, March 13, 1961. "Daily News Jazz Festival, June 8-9"
  8. ^ ""Rodeo", Richard Diamond, Private Detective, February 20, 1958". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved March 30, 2013. 

External links[edit]


Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
New York Rangers

1926–1968
Succeeded by
Madison Square Garden
Preceded by
Barton Street Arena
Home of the
New York Americans

1925–1942 (MSG III)
Succeeded by
last arena

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