Madison Square Garden given 10-year eviction notice to make way for new Penn Station

Caitlin McClure Contributor
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The New York City Council voted on Wednesday to give Madison Square Garden ten-year eviction notice, in order to clear the space for the construction of a new Penn Station.

In 1963, the original Penn Station was demolished to construct the $1.1 billion dollar multi-purpose indoor arena. The building was given a 50-year permit to operate, which expired earlier this year.

The current Madison Square Garden is the fourth building to stand with its name, opening atop Penn Station in 1968 to host NBA’s New York Knicks and NHL’s New York Rangers, along with other concerts and events.

“Two of the greatest buildings New York has ever lost were the original Penn Station and the original MSG. Unfortunately, the latter is not widely remembered,” said Justin Shubow, president of the National Civic Art Society.

The reason it is called “The Garden” is because it actually had a garden on top, and as a result was more environmentally-friendly than the current building, according to Shubow.

“Madison Square Garden has operated at its current site for generations and has been proud to bring New Yorkers some of the greatest and most iconic moments in sports and entertainment,” Madison Square Garden Co. representative Kim Kerns said.

The Madison Square Garden Company ensured their “bright” future despite this setback. “We now look forward to the reopening of the arena in the fall of 2013 following the completion of our historic, three-year, nearly billion-dollar transformation, which will ensure our future is as bright as our celebrated past,” the company said in a statement Wednesday.

Despite lobbying efforts from the Madison Square Garden Company, celebrities such as Spike Lee, and former Knicks superstars including Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe, the City Council voted nearly unanimously in a vote of 47-1 to evict Madison Square Garden and make way for the construction of a new Penn Station.

“We need to make sure Penn Station becomes what we need it to be, a really 21st century grand entrance into the greatest city in the world. Not…what Sen. [Daniel] Moynihan or others historically described as a bunch of rat tunnels that lead people in and out of the city every day,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

“When it comes to Penn Station, virtually everyone who has been to NY has had to use that facility and I guarantee nobody likes it. You do feel like a rat. There’s no ornament, there’s no attempt to achieve elegance, grandeur or beauty inside,” Shubow said.

The Alliance for a New Penn Station reacted positively to the decision.  The council “has made clear that now is time to get to work and build the Penn Station that New York City and the region desperately need in order to improve transit access and spur economic growth in the city and throughout the region.”

In the meantime, “The World’s Most Famous Arena” will have to begin its search for a new dwelling, hopefully one that will bring more success for its home teams.

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