28 January 2008

History in a Starbucks: World Wide Plaza

There are at least two Starbucks in the World Wide Plaza complex, that giant highlighter in the sky that erupts upward from the Eighth Avenue block between 49th and 50th. I doubt many of the java sippers know they're sitting at the former site of Madison Square Garden—third edition, the one between the buildings which was actually on Madison Square, and the ugly eyesore we know today near Macy's.

The Garden lived here from 1925 to 1966. Some bad things happened here, like a rally for Hitler on Feb. 20, 1939. And some good things, like Marilyn Monroe singing "Happy Birthday" is a poured-on dress to President Kennedy at his 45th birthday party, on May 19, 1962. Lotta boxing happened there. Lotta hockey. The Rangers started at this Garden. Whole lotta nothing happens there now, unless you count "Naked Boys Singing," which performs down the street.


Anonymous said...

I believe the current Madison Square Garden opened in 1968. Therefore, I am pretty certain that the old Garden at 50th and Eighth closed in 1967 not 1966.

Just nitpicking--love your site otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Before they started living in Manhattan during the Gilbert/Ratelle/Giacomin years, the Rangers used to stay at the Belvedere Hotel, which is still around the corner on 48th. Apparently, there was a back door on 49th they could easily come and go from. These days, Jaromir Jagr could sit at that Starbucks and how many of us would know him? Ah, the Original Six....