This week's episode of Mad Men looked at the 4th (and current) incarnation of Madison Square Garden (opened February 14th, 1968) at 7th Avenue between 31st and 33rd Streets. The MSG men wanted the Don Draper treatment to spin their campaign and gain public approval for, you know, tearing down the street level portion of Pennsylvania Station; a beautiful Beaux-Arts structure that perfectly backdropped many long farewells during WWII.
Draper's off-the-cuff pitch goes like this, "I was in California. Everything is new, and it's clean. The people are filled with hope. New York City is in decay. But Madison Square Garden—it's the beginning of a new city on a hill." At the time, the opposition's outcry was so loud that it led to the creation of our city's Landmarks Preservation Commission! But alas, the building was demolished and now Britney Spears has a place to play when she comes to New York.
Prior to all this, the first two Gardens were located at the northeast corner of Madison Square (which originally housed Madison Cottage) from which the arena got its name. The original housed 10,000 and was open from 1879 to 1890; the 2nd was up and running from 1890 through 1925 and had an 8,000 person capacity (it was torn down to make way for the New York Life Insurance Building); the 3rd Garden opened in 1925 and shut down in 1969. It was located at 50th Street and 8th Avenue, and when it was torn down, some wanted to build the world's tallest building on its site—this resulted in strict height restrictions in Hell's Kitchen and left the space a parking lot through 1989. And let's not forget, last year they wanted to move the Garden for a 5th time!