Madison Square Garden II

New York, New York, USA

Demolished 1926

The Disappointed Tourist: Madison Square Garden II, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 24 x 18″ (61 x 46 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

The second Madison Square Garden was a Manhattan indoor arena that replaced the first Madison Square Garden. It was designed by noted architect Stanford White, who was murdered there in 1906 by millionaire Harry Thaw over his affair with Thaw’s wife, the actress Evelyn Nesbit. Although the Garden hosted a wide variety of sporting events, circuses, balls and musical performances and the 1924 Democratic National Convention, it was never a financial success and its mortgage holder, the New York Life Insurance Company demolished the building to make way for its new headquarters in 1926. Since then there have been two more Madison Square Gardens on other sites. The current Madison Square Garden was erected on the site of the old Penn Station. The painting is based on an old uncredited postcard.

This isn’t my own memory, but I interviewed the novelist Louis Auchincloss years ago, and he was endlessly nostalgic not only for the New York he used to know (he was born in 1917) but for the New York he had heard about from his grandparents. “I think,” he once wrote, “I would rather see the old reservoir on Forty-second Street or the original Madison Square Garden than I would any of the lost wonders of the ancient world.” Larissa M