A genuine New York City institution, Madison Square Garden has long dubbed itself “The World’s Most Famous Arena.” Madison Square Garden has built its stake to this bold claim on the back of hosting hundreds of sporting events, music concerts, and unique live experiences each and every year for the past several decades. Whether you’re a star athlete or a music legend, having the opportunity to perform your craft live at Madison Square Garden is considered the pinnacle of your profession.
History of Madison Square Garden
The Madison Square Garden known and loved the world over today is actually the fourth New York City arena to bear that exact same name. The very first Madison Square Garden opened to the public way back in 1879, at the corner of East 26th Street and Madison Avenue. It was an open-air venue that produced boxing matches, dog shows, and orchestra performances, and was replaced by a second, covered structure, on the same location, in 1890.
A third Madison Square Garden stood at West 50th Street and 8th Avenue between 1925 and 1968, and marked the beginning of the arena’s reputation as a mecca for live sports. Madison Square Garden as we know it today sits atop Penn Station. It opened its doors in 1968, but has undergone two extensive renovations in the years since: first, in the early 1990s, and then again between 2011 and 2013.
What’s at Madison Square Garden
For all the live events Madison Square Garden hosts, it’s perhaps best known as the home of the National Basketball Association’s New York Knicks. Though it has been some 50 years since the Knicks won the NBA championship, that doesn’t stop their long-suffering fans from packing the arena to cheer on their team, making each Knicks game an event. The Knicks share the arena with the National Hockey League’s New York Rangers, one of that sport’s flagship franchises.
Numerous other sporting events regularly take place at Madison Square Garden. The Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament is contested here every spring, as are the finals of the National Invitation Tournament. The arena still serves as a site for prominent boxing and wrestling matches, and has held the NBA Draft in the past, too.
Madison Square Garden is also famous for live music. The list of performers who have headlined Madison Square Garden in the past is far too long to detail here, but includes such music legends as John Lennon, U2, Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, the Grateful Dead, and Lady Gaga, just to name a few. The performer most associated with the venue today, though, is Billy Joel. The piano man holds the record for most concert appearances here, and even holds down his own regular residency at the venue.
Many visitors to Madison Square Garden choose to partake in its well-regarded All Access tour. This guided tour typically runs about 75 minutes and lets guests stroll through a luxury suite, exclusive backstage areas, and the Chase Bridge seats, which consist of a catwalk-style ticket section distinctive to Madison Square Garden.
Tips for Visiting Madison Square Garden
- Madison Square Garden is included on following money saving tourist passes: New York City Sightseeing Pass
- Again, it’s important to remember that Madison Square Garden actually sits above Penn Station, one of New York’s City major transportation hubs. This prominent location makes a visit to Madison Square Garden perfect for combining with other notable attractions found nearby. These include the Empire State Building, High Line, Edge at Hudson Yards, Times Square, and more.
- Because of its proximity to Penn Station, regardless where you’re arriving from you’ll find getting to Madison Square Garden via public transportation pretty easy to accomplish. As a result, don’t drive to Madison Square Garden unless you absolutely have to do so.
- There’s a tremendous number of dining options in the immediate vicinity of Madison Square Garden, so be certain not to settle for whatever you see in house or throughout Penn Station. There’s likely better food just steps away.