SAP recently helped the Madison Square Garden Company unveil #Garden366, an interactive social media wall honoring some of the greatest sports, entertainment and political moments in the 135+ year history of "The World's Most Famous Arena". We've pulled together 20 of the greatest moments featured in the #Garden366 display to help celebrate and give fans a taste of what to expect when the visit the legendary venue in person. Here they are in chronological order:
Madison Square Garden Opens
May 31, 1879
Madison Square Garden opened its doors in 1879 at its namesake first location in Madison Square on 26th Street & Madison Avenue. Next, the second iteration of The World’s Most Famous Arena opened in 1890 in the original location. But in 1925, MSG moved on up – uptown, that is, opening on Eighth Avenue between 49th & 50th Streets. The Garden has been host to some of the most legendary and iconic moments in sports, entertainment and politics, spanning more than 130 years of history.
The current Garden opened its doors in 1968 to a USO salute hosted by quite the renowned pair: Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.
Marciano Defeats Louis
October 26, 1951
The world would soon remember the name Rocky Marciano as a legendary fighter. He was young, undefeated, and he was set to battle his hero, Joe Louis, for the title of Heavyweight Champion of the World. Louis was just past his prime as a fighter, and Marciano was the future of the heavyweight division.
With a left hook followed by an overhand right in the 8th round, Marciano laid out Louis through the ropes, brining the fight to a dramatic end. Afterward, Marciano wept in Louis’ dressing room – he had just knocked out his hero.
Marilyn Monroe Sings Happy Birthday to JFK
May 19, 1962
It was the birthday wish heard ‘round the world! In one of the most iconic performances of all time, Marilyn Monroe sang to President John F. Kennedy with her very own version of “Happy Birthday.” After she performed, President Kennedy joked on stage about her song saying, “I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way.”
Knicks Win First Championship
May 8, 1970
“The Captain” Willis Reed stepped onto The Garden’s floor before Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals after having left Game 5 and the crowd went wild! No one knew if Reed would play again that year. Reed instead limped onto the court and scored the first two baskets of the game, giving the fans and teammates they needed the shot of adrenaline they needed. Walt Frazier contributed 36 points, 19 assists and 7 rebounds and the Knicks outscored the Lakers, 113-99, claiming their first NBA Championship.
The "Fight of the Century"
March 8, 1971
What would become known as the “Fight of the Century” was the most anticipated sporting event of all-time at The Garden on March 8, 1971. Muhammed Ali was undefeated and was set to face off against Joe Frazier – who was also undefeated. Celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Burt Lancaster and many others were in attendance. Frazier had a slow start, as he usually did, but eventually in the 15th round, he gained the upper hand. Frazier used his signature left hook, which left Ali knocked to the floor. Even though Ali sprung up to resume the fight, the unanimous decision was already made. Ali had suffered his first loss.
The Concert for Bangladesh
August 1, 1971
Bangladesh was in the midst of a civil war and had been devastated by the effects of a cyclone.So, George Harrison and Ravi Shankar organized the very first music benefit of its kind to raise awareness and fund relief efforts for the country. This even got global attention and some of the greatest artists of the time teamed up with Harrison and Shankar for two shows at The World’s Most Famous Arena. Among the stars were Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Bangladeshi musician Ali Akbar Khan and many more.
Knicks vs. Celtics 1973 Eastern Conference Finals
April 27, 1973
Five New York players fouled out during Game Four of the 1973 Eastern Conference Finals, an Easter Sunday classic. Even so, the Knicks secured a 117 – 110 victory over the Boston Celtics. The Knicks’ Walt Frazier scored 37 points, and Dave DeBusschere 22, making a comeback from 16 down with only 10 minutes to go in regulation. Off the bench, John Gianelli, Phil Jackson and Henry Bibby pulled off the Knicks victory to take a 3-1 lead on their way to defeating the Celtics in seven games on their way to the 1973 NBA Championship.
Pope John Paul II Visits The Garden
October 3, 1979
As the unofficial beginning of World Youth Day, newly elected Pope John Paul II visited The World’s Most Famous Arena as part of his first visit to America. More than 20,000 youth throughout the area headed to The Garden to see and hear from the new Pope.
"My life changed that day and I will never, ever forget it," said Geralyn Smith, who at six years old had the ultimate honor of being greeted by Pope John Paul II at The Garden, a moment that was commemorated in a now iconic photo from his visit.
March 31, 1985
Hulk Hogan and Mr. T claimed a theatrical win over “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff in the main event in the first ever WrestleMania. The event featured special guest referee Muhammad Ali and Liberace was even the guest timekeeper.
With that, the WrestleMania cultural phenomenon was born at The Garden.
Bill Clinton Presidential Nomination
July 13, 1992
Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton described himself as a “Comeback Kid” as he began his transformation from underdog to the Democratic Party’s choice for a Presidential candidate. He went to defeat incumbent George H.W. Bush and became the 42nd President of the United States.
May 25, 1993
The Knicks were ahead by three points during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals heading into the final minute. Then – probably one of the most famous plays in Knicks history – John Starks performed “The Dunk.” He drove, past one of the Bulls members that sent the fans at The Garden into a burst of excitement. The Knicks won, 96-91.
"Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!"
May 27, 1994
Game 7. Second Overtime. Eastern Conference Finals.
Playing a dramatic game against the Devils, the Rangers’ left wing Stehane Matteau scored with only 4:24 in the second overtime remaining which gave the Rangers a 2-1 win, thus advancing them to the Stanley Cup Finals. This very play resulted in a classic radio call that will forever be engrained in the memories of fans. As Matteau scored, Howie Rose screamed, “MATTEAU!! MATTEAU!! MATTEAU!!”
Ewing's Putback Sends Knicks to Finals
June 5, 1994
Do you recall the iconic photo of Patrick Ewing standing atop a scorer’s table with his arms outstretched?
The photo was taken after an incredible Eastern Conference Finals game. The Knicks were down three games to two, but they’d won Game 6 in Indiana, so they returned to The Garden for the final game in the series. The Knicks were down 90-89, and Patrick Ewing grabbed the rebound to slam-dunk which ultimately advanced the Knicks to the NBA Finals.
"The Great One" Retires
April 18, 1999
Wayne Gretzky is revered as the all-time greatest Hockey player, and his final three seasons were played as a member of the Rangers. When he took to the MSG ice for the final game of his career, Gretzky recorded a league-record 2,857th goal as his final point.
Gretzky’s No. 99 jersey is - still to this day - the only to be retired league-wide. “The Great One,” upon completing his final game, skated around The Garden with his teammates following behind him, he then took one final lap alone, applauded by many of his fans
LJ’s 4-point Play
June 5, 1999
The Knicks were down by three in the last seconds of Game Three of the 1999 Eastern Conference Finals. What happened next was a shot no Knicks fan will ever forget. Larry Johnson threw a shot from behind the three-point arc, but then was fouled by Antonio Davis of the Indiana Pacers. The three-point ball went through the net. Johnson’s free throw ensured the Game Three win with a score of 92-91. The team was en route to make the Knicks the first-ever eighth-seeded team to head to The NBA Finals as they beat Indiana in six games.
The Concert for New York City
October 20, 2001
“The Concert for New York City” was hosted at Madison Square Garden following the devastation of September 11, 2001. Money was raised for the victims and to honor first responders, to include FDNY, NYPD and the Port Authority Police. James Dolan, Harvey Weinstein, and John Sykes organized the benefit concert. Over $35 million was raised and the funds went to the Robin Hood Foundation.
Musicians, first responders, politicians, celebrity athletes and entertainers all showed their support. Among them were Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Billy Joel, Elton John, Paul McCartney, The Who, Adam Sandler, President Clinton and New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani.
Benefit Concert for Hurricane Katrina
September 20, 2005
Just less than a month after New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, Madison Square Garden held a benefit concert to support for relief efforts. “From the Big Apple to the Big Easy: New York City’s Concert for the Gulf Coast.” MSG was decorated with inspiration from New Orleans.
The concert included legendary stars Allen Toussaint, The Neville Brothers, Bette Midler, Cyndi Lauper, Dave Matthews, Diana Krall, Elton John, Elvis Costello, Jimmy Buffett, John Fogerty, Lenny Kravitz and Simon & Garfunkel. The event raised nearly $9 million which was sent to New Orleans for long-term relief efforts.
Syracuse Defeats UConn in Six OT Game
March 12, 2009
Many basketball fans had a very late night due to the epic Big East Tournament Quarterfinal game with Syracuse and the University of Connecticut going head-to-head. The game was tied between No. 18 Syracuse and No. 3 Connecticut at the end of regulation.
The game went on to play six overtime periods and the matchup lasted 3 hours and 46 minutes before Syracuse beat out UConn 127-117, with the final buzzer ringing out at 1:22 a.m. By then, eight players had fouled out and the game is in the record books as the longest in Big East history & second longest in Division I history.
December 12, 2012
The largest event ever staged at The Garden came in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Illustrious event producers James Dolan, Harvey Weinstein and John Sykes teamed up to present “12-12-12”, A Concert for Sandy Relief. Over $50 million was raised and funds were rushed to those affected by the storm with the help of the Robin Hood Foundation.
Some of the biggest stars were on hand, and the event was available worldwide to nearly two billion people. Performers included Bon Jovi, Dave Grohl, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, The Who, Paul McCartney and many more.