Old Madison Square Garden: Fond Recollections of a True Landmark


From the world cup of soccer to the superbowl, people all throughout the
world have dreams of being sport stars or even just meeting their favorite
athlete. It is in some peoples mind, the ideal american dream. In a time known
as the roaring twenties, people throughout New York were working toward the
american dream. This dream included a more splendid lifestyle that allowed for
freedom and fun. In the middle of the Manhattan burough of New York City was a
lively stretch of town known as Madison Square. This community center included
thousands of immagrants striving to accomplish the American dream. Many people
showcased thier talents in music, sport and theater. This park had all of the
necessary characteristics to gain popularity except for one integral landmark
that would bring the cultures together. Madison Square Garden had the exact
combination of commerce and sport to bring the people together. The friendly
confines of Old Madison Square Garden was a melting pot for not only residents
of the community, but for athletes all over the world. Athletes would come to
New York not just for competition, but also for the experiences and different
cultures (Jackson 72). Nowhere else in the world do you get what\'s in New York.
How all the different lifestyles can live together in harmony, for the most part,
and make New York the greatest city in the world. When the wrecking ball took
down Old Madison Square Garden in 1925, people from not just the city, but from
all over New York came to pay their last respects to a place that had more
meaning than sport (Jackson 68). It represented the hopes and drems of thousands
as well as the stability of the community. As people hace come and gone for 35
years the Garden was always there. As it fell so did the era, so did the dreams.
To move the Garden out of its original home to a new and improved location may
have benefited the people of the time, but for those who dont forget there past
the end of the original Garden is a tragedy because of its historical and
cultural importance to the great city of New York.
The first Madison Square Garden was constructed out of need, the need
for a cultural center in the middle of Madison Square. A place for conventions,
sporting events and other activities that the community can share. Madison
Square was a lively part of New York City in the early 1900\'s. Adjacent from
Broadway it was filled with theateres, music halls, hotels and restaurants that
had people coming from the outskirts of town just to visit them. Competing with
Broadway, Madison Square had many theateras to compete with the new technology
of motion pictures (Lachetta 43). Throughout the late 1800\'s and the early
1900\'s the Madison Square was a very colorful place, that lacked one thing a
true family place with many events to offer the different life styles.
The place the Madison Square needed was Madison Square Garden, a
landmark for the entire city to enjoy. The site of the first two Madison Square
Gardens was formarly the Union Depot of the New York and Harlem Railroad
(Nichols 83). In 1871 the depot was moved to the current site of Grand Central
Terminal and the Depot was sold to P.T. Barnum. Mr. Barnum converted the depot
into his popular hippodrome, a large tented area. As the hippodrome stood in the
middle of the square people waited for a new and improved hippodrome which would
be Madison Square Garden. In 1890 Stanford White designed the Garden as an
imposing Spanish style Renaissance structure, which occupied most of 28th street
(Burgess 46). It\'s central tower modeled after the Giralda in Sevilla, Spain,
was topped with Augustus St. Gauden\'s statue of Diana. This structure would turn
out to be the dominant figure in the skyline for 35 years. The first garden was
completed with the largest Ampitheater in the country, the Garden Theater as
well as the Roof Garden, concert Hall, cafe and even an immense swimming pool.
The new Madison Square Garden was an immediate sensation. Some of the events
held in the Garden included prize fights, wild west shows, the first american
automobile show was held in Madison Square Garden. It also included a track for
biking or running and of course P.T. Barnum\'s circus (Whyte 14). The Garden was
considered a prize asset to the city and was a landmark for all visitors to
enjoy.
The architect of this glorius