History of Madison Square Garden
Since it first opened its doors in 1879, Madison Square Garden has been a celebrated center of New York life. Named “Coolest Arena” in the United States by Rolling Stone and “Venue of the Decade” by Billboard, Madison Square Garden has come to epitomize live sports and entertainment to people around the world, with an appearance at The World’s Most Famous Arena often representing a pinnacle of an athlete’s or performer’s career.
As the home of the New York Knicks, Rangers, professional boxing, college basketball and so much more, the Garden’s most memorable sports events include the 1970 Knicks NBA Championship, the Rangers 1994 Stanley Cup Championship and “The Fight of the Century” between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in 1971.
Madison Square Garden has been the site of three Democratic National Conventions and one Republican National Convention; landmark visits from Pope John Paul II (in 1979) and Pope Francis (in 2015); Marilyn Monroe’s famous birthday serenade to President John F. Kennedy in 1962; and Frank Sinatra’s “Main Event” concert in 1974 and the 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concerts in 2009. The arena has also hosted four prominent benefit concerts, which galvanized the public to respond to national and global crises, including the first of its kind, “The Concert for Bangladesh” in 1972, as well as “The Concert for New York City,” held after the events of 9/11; “From the Big Apple to the Big Easy,” to benefit those affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005; and “12-12-12, The Concert for Sandy Relief” in 2012.
Top music acts that have played The World’s Most Famous Arena include Elvis Presley, John Lennon, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Madonna, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, The Who, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Luke Bryan. In January 2014, Billy Joel became Madison Square Garden’s first-ever music franchise. Through this unprecedented MSG residency, “the Piano Man” entertains sold-out crowds of fans with one concert each month. In July 2015, Joel played his 65th show at MSG—setting a new record for the most performances by any artist at The Garden.
The current Madison Square Garden Complex, located between 31st and 33rd Streets and 7th and 8th Avenues on Manhattan’s West Side, opened on February 11, 1968 with a salute to the U.S.O. hosted by Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. From a structural standpoint, the Arena was considered an engineering marvel for its time, including its famous circular shape and unique, cable-supported ceiling, which contributes to its intimate feel. In October 2013, The World’s Most Famous Arena became the world’s most state-of-the-art with the completion of a 3-year, top-to-bottom transformation, ensuring that Madison Square Garden will continue to be the site of historic, unforgettable live experiences for generations to come.
On this behind-the-scenes tour of Madison Square Garden, you’ll learn about iconic moments that have made sports and entertainment history. See Elton John’s autographed set list, view the liturgy book for the Papal Mass of Pope Francis, learn about the most famous play in Knicks history, get a close up of Dave Matthews’ guitar and so much more.