If you’ve caught a show in New York City in the past 100 years or so, chances are you’re familiar with Madison Square Garden (MSG). The world-famous venue, which hosts everything from sports games to circuses, and from comedians to concerts, is undoubtedly one of Manhattan’s more unique attractions. However, the most intriguing side of Madison Square Garden may be one you haven’t seen yet.
Today’s Madison Square Garden isn’t the original
Actually, it’s the fourth incarnation of an entertainment venue that can trace its roots back to 1879. Preceded by three iterations all sporting the same name, built in 1879, 1890, and 1925, respectively, the current Madison Square Garden has survived the longest of any which came before it, operating steadily since 1969. If you think modern-day MSG hosts some unbelievable occurrences, you’d be shocked by its predecessors, the sites of boxing’s heyday, an age-defining murder, and more.
Each of the four Beatles has performed individually at Madison Square Garden
To date, Madison Square Garden is the only venue in history to have hosted each member of the music phenomenon The Beatles. While “The Fab Four” never graced MSG’s stage as a unit, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr each performed at the venue during their respective careers.
John Lennon’s last concert appearance took place at Madison Square Garden
When beloved former Beatle John Lennon joined Sir Elton John on stage at Madison Square Garden in 1974, nobody could have realized the significance of the brief performance. The handful of songs performed by Lennon on this occasion would mark his last concert appearance before his shocking murder in December of 1980.
Beneath Madison Square Garden’s floors lies a chilling discovery—literally
In order to accommodate multiple events in one day, such as basketball and hockey games, MSG has not one, but two floors. A 17,000-square-foot surface is sprayed with water and chilled with pipes to form an ice floor, which can be covered up or unveiled in a moment’s notice.
Madison Square Garden played host to “The Fight of the Century”
As any boxing historian (or Ali enthusiast) can tell you, the March 8, 1971, match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier is considered by many to be “The Fight of the Century.” While this event marked the first face-off between two hitherto undefeated champs, the real fight took place outside the ring. Ali’s anti-war sentiments led to both his heavyweight title being revoked and the negative public perception of him leading up to the fight. Eventually, Frazier would be named victor of the match at MSG, while Ali participated in and won a different fight, in which he would reclaim his heavyweight title from America’s court system.
Michael Jordan’s first professional basketball game took place at Madison Square Garden
Even strangers to the sport are familiar with basketball legend Michael Jordan. After being drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 1984, Jordan would play his first professional game against the New York Knicks at their home base, Madison Square Garden. Earning 33 points and a standing ovation from attendees that day, Jordan granted Madison Square Garden and its guests a glimpse into the future of basketball.
Teen pop star Justin Bieber holds the record as Madison Square Garden’s top sellout
Of tickets, that is! In 2012, two of Justin Bieber’s Believe tour performances at MSG sold out in just 30 seconds. With this occurrence, Bieber dethroned fellow teen celebrity Taylor Swift, whose 2009 show sold out MSG in 60 seconds.
Madison Square Garden is a surprising haven for hop lovers
Like any sports and entertainment arena, Madison Square Garden hosts several bars and restaurants. However, unlike most of its peers, MSG boasts an impressive bounty of beer—more than 520 lines, to be exact. (For those doing the math, that equals over 1,000 kegs and more than 30 different kinds of beer). Bottoms up!
Madison Square Garden is the only arena in the world with a concave ceiling
Ever wondered why Madison Square Garden is one of the world’s most sought-after concert venues? Much of MSG’s appeal has to do with its ceiling, which defies convention by being concave rather than convex. In layman’s terms, this structure improves sound quality and provides unobstructed views from each of the arena’s 1,000+ seats.
The venue has helped to raise millions of dollars for charity
Putting its ample space (and influence) to good use, Madison Square Garden’s contribution to charity spans decades. Hosting multiple benefit concerts, such as The Concert for Bangladesh in 1971 and a 2012 tribute to the victims of Hurricane Sandy, the prosperous venue has raised more than $62 million for people in need.