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Madison Square Garden (MSG III) was an indoor arena in New York City, the third of 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 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 many other events.


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 by 375 feet, 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 in the upper deck could count on having some portion of the ice obstructed, unless they sat in the first row. 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.


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 defense against Henry Armstrong, still the largest crowd for any of the Gardens.

File:NYR1932 33.jpg

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

File:1925 NYA program.jpg

1925-26 New York Americans program cover. Note that the picture on the front is of the second Garden.


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 17, 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]

The Circus[]

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.[3]

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.


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 seven NCAA men's basketball championships between 1943 and 1950, the first National Invitation Tournament in 1938; and the NBA All-Star Game in 1954, 1955 and 1968. City College of New York (CCNY) was one of the first schools banned from playing at MSG due to the 1951 CCNY Point Shaving Scandal.[4]

Notable events[]

File:MSG III 1937 Anti-Nazi Rally.jpg

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

  • The very first event held at the third Garden was a bicycle race held from November 24 to the 29th, several weeks before the official opening of the arena.
  • Although MSG III never hosted a national political convention (see below), in 1932 Franklin Delano Roosevelt continued a tradition begun in 1892 by Grover Cleveland when 22,000 people came to a rally held to support him in his bid for the Presidency.[1]
  • On March 15, 1937 a massive "Boycott Nazi Germany" rally was held in the Garden, sponsored by the American Jewish Congress and the Jewish Labor Committee. John L. Lewis of the Congress of Industrial Organizations and New York City mayor Fiorello LaGuardia were among the speakers.[5]
  • Ice skater and film star Sonia Henie brought her Hollywood Ice Review to the Garden in 1938, drawing more than 15,000 fans.[1]
  • On February 20, 1939 a Pro-Nazi organization called German American Bund held a rally with 20,000 in attendance at the third Madison Square Garden. By December 1941 the U.S. Government outlawed the group.
  • Evangelist Billy Graham had a New York City mission at the Garden, in 1957, which ran nightly for 16 weeks.
  • Thirteen thousand people attended the rodeo, featuring Gene Autry, in 1940.[1]
  • Elizabeth Taylor was the host when Hollywood producer Mike Todd held an anniversary party for his film Around the World in 80 Days on October 17, 1957, featuring Marilyn Monroe riding an elephant.[1]
  • Monroe also memorably sang Happy Birthday to You to President John F. Kennedy at his birthday party at the Garden in May 1962.[1]


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[]

  • One type of event that was never held in the 50th St. Garden was a national Democratic or Republican nominating convention, as neither party met in New York to select their candidates for President and Vice President between 1924 and 1976. Despite this, the climactic scenes of the 1962 thriller The Manchurian Candidate, in which a brainwashed assassin attempts to kill a Presidential nominee at a convention, was filmed at the third Garden.
  • In addition, the scene from Citizen Kane with Charles Foster Kane standing in front of his giant picture making a campaign speech as a candidate for Governor of New York took place in the third Garden, although it was not filmed there.
  • MSG III was featured prominently in the story of Ron Howard's 2005 film Cinderella Man, although exterior montage shots glorified it by placing it against the Times Square signs on Broadway, when in fact the building was one block west.
  • Several Warner Bros. cartoons referred to the arena as "Madison Round Garden", and the Popeye cartoon Brotherly Love referred to the Garden as "Patterson Square Garden."
File:Cowboy Evans World Series Rodeo CONTESTANT.jpg

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

See also[]

  • Madison Square Garden (1879)
  • Madison Square Garden (1890)
  • Madison Square Garden
  • Madison Square Garden Bowl


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 "Madison Square Garden III" on
  2. Schumach, Murray (February 14, 1968). Next and Last Attraction at Old Madison Square Garden to Be Wreckers' Ball, The New York Times
  3. Even at the fourth Garden, games would sometimes have to begin as late as 9:00 p.m. to accommodate the circus.
  4. Nat Holman: The Man, His Legacy and CCNY. "The 1951 Basketball Scandal" - The City College Library - City College of New York
  5. "From Haven to Home" Library of Congress exhibit


External links[]