Saturday, May 18, 2013
The pleasure palace
The second of four Manhattan structures to bear the name, this incarnation of Madison Square Garden, designed by Stanford White, was opened to the public in 1890. In this postcard view the building and nearby structures have been garishly outlined with the addition of glitter, which isn't readily visible in the scan. There is some lettering on the tower that appears to read "OPEN BY NIGHT."
In 1906, the year after this copy of the card was mailed to Mrs. Leo Keck of Grand Rapids, Michigan, the building proved White's undoing. While enjoying a musical performance in its rooftop theater, he was shot to death by Harry K. Thaw, the pathologically jealous husband of one of his former lovers, Evelyn Nesbit. Confined to a mental institution after two sensational murder trials (the first ended in a hung jury), Thaw was released after a few years and died a free man in 1947.
The building also hosted the 1924 Democratic National Convention, which took 103 ballots to nominate John K. Davis to run, unsuccessfully, against incumbent President Calvin Coolidge. It was torn down the following year.