Filed under: Architecture, Basketball, Bread City, College Basketball, Madison Square Garden, New York City, Sports Photography | Tags: Basketball History, MSG III, New York City History, St. John's Redmen, USF
Madison Square Garden, aka The Garden, aka The Mecca, is on its fifth life.
Sixty years before Marbury’s MSG there was a crazy open-air Madison Square Garden Bowl in Long Island City, and before that one were the first two arenas actually on Madison Avenue in the late 1800s. But it was Madison Square Garden III, a behemoth built by a boxing promoter on 50th Street and 8th Avenue, that cemented its legend status as the World’s Most Famous Arena.
MSG III’s grand opening event was a six day indoor bicycle race in November of 1925, but boxing and ice hockey were the stadium’s real bread and butter, drawing massive crowds. It became such a huge deal for a boxer to appear at the Garden that even the big shots got stage fright in the locker room. The Knicks made their Garden debut in 1948, but college ball pulled in more at the III. Below, St. John’s faces U. of Frisco in some throwback NIT action.
Check how bad the old blue seats were. Cigarette/cigar smoking was allowed and arena ventilation was nonexistent. If you sat in those way-upper decks, by the second half it was like watching a basketball game from inside of a house fire.
MSG III was torn down in 1968 and remained a Hell’s Kitchen parking lot for twenty-one years. It’s now the site of One Worldwide Plaza, a 49-story skyscraper that is currently the 87th tallest building in the world.
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