We couldn’t find all these locations and objects around Manhattan, but can you guess which ones we did find?
1 )A Community garden
2) A building designed by McKim, Mead & White
3) The place where John Lennon died
4) A former shoe factory
5) A public bath house
6) A “MAD” Museum
7) Priscila Acuna
8) A Genoese explorer
9) A nineteeth century operating theater
10) A bloodhound
11) A view of something that was once thought to be the Western Passage to “The Orient
12) A Jesuit University
13) A building designed by Charles B. J. Snyder
14) A copy of Gerald Markowitz’ book Educating for Justice: A History of John Jay College
15) An American flag
My Final Multi-Genre Project on how NYPD Officers are portrayed in society
My Personal Interview with former NYPD Narcotics Detective, DEA and Secret Service Agent Michael Codella
My historical Project on Madison Square Garden !
Madison Square Garden is considered as one of the greatest sports entertainment arenas of New York City and the United States. Generally, Madison Square Garden is commonly referred as “The World’s Most Famous Arena”. The Garden is famous for holding a wide array of sporting events such as Professional Wrestling, Amateur Wrestling, American Football, Hockey, Boxing, Track and Basketball. Some defining sports moments that have transpired in Madison Square Garden are Joe Frazier’s unanimous decision victory over Muhammad Ali, Larry Johnson’s 4 point play and the New York Ranger capturing their first Stanley Cup Championship in 54 years. Behind all of the awe-inspiring performances and experiences lies a tale that I feel not many New Yorkers know about.
This unique story involves Stanford White who was the architect for Madison Square Garden’s second reconstruction after it was torn down in 1890. Thanks to White’s recreation Madison Square Garden was finally a commercial success and he was known as a legendary architect for his time. In fact, Stanford White actually died in the very building he helped reimagine. In order to truly investigate the circumstances of what happened I decided to observe Madison Square Garden’s newly renovated theater where he had died in 1906. During the 1900s White had a reputation for being a playboy and a very public social life as he was “The design superstar of early-20th-century New York, as well as an elite and influential member of society his firm was responsible for the Washington Square arch, mansions for Joseph Pulitzer and Madison Square Garden” (Goldman Page 1). Also, White was popular for his interest in the preforming arts especially in showgirls as he had a relationship with famous dancer Evelyn Nesbit who first rose to prominence after her hit musical “Florodora” was released. Much like Marilyn Monroe Nesbit “Generated more newspaper sales and publicity than William Randolph Hearst himself could have imagined. She was a modern-day Cinderella who overnight became the glittering girl model of Gotham” (Paula Urubaru Interview).
Although, seventeen-year-old Evelyn Nesbit enjoyed great success early on in the 20th century, this would all change once she started seeing Stanford White. According to numerous reports Nesbit was drugged and raped by none other than Stanford White on multiple occasions (Paula Urubaru Interview). Surprisingly, Nesbit became White’s benefactor and his girlfriend for nearly a year until they had broken up. Furthermore, after separating from White Evelyn Nesbit married Harry Thaw, son of a Pittsburg railroad millionaire. When Harry Thaw finds out what White had done to his wife in their previous relationship he decides to shoot him at the Madison Square Garden Theater. Unlike the Garden’s sports arena its theater is small and compact. A tour guide had informed me that the theater seats between 2,000 and 5,600 people for concerts and serves multiple purposes from hosting meetings, stage shows and graduation ceremonies. So when looking at the circumstances behind White’s murder it is easier to see how Harry Thaw was able to spot him in a small crowd. Actually, Harry Thaw stood to inherit 40 million dollars and sacrificed it all once he pulled the trigger that fateful night. In a combination of shock and outrage the New York City public quickly vilified Stanford White for taking advantage of an underage actress. As a result “A June 29, 1906 cartoon in the New York American shows White shooting arrows at young virgins” (New York American) depicting him as the devil. Whereas, Harry Thaw was looked as a New York hero for defending his wife’s honor. Early on in the case a majority of New Yorker’s had justified White’s murder taking only into consideration the ethical implications of Harry Thaw’s actions rather than the legal consequences. On the other hand, Harry Thaw’s motive for killing Stanford White is one of great controversy. To support this several media outlets describe Thaw’s murder as an act of jealously as numerous accounts convey that once Thaw had found out that White had slept with Nesbit he started torturing and raping Evelyn while obsessing over how to destroy White (Geary NBM Comics). Thanks to these new discoveries what had at first seemed like a tale of romantic heroism transforms into one of revenge and bloodshed.
Interestingly enough, many in attendance thought White’s shooting was a part of the show as “Before the tragedy a dialogue concerning a burlesque duel had been carried on by two of the characters and many people thought that the old trick of playing in the audience had been tried again” (New York Times 1906). On my trip to Madison Square Garden I found the theater to be really quiet especially on a busy night and there’s something about the stage that attracts all of my attention instead of everything else around me. Thus, I can definitely see why many people thought Stanford White’s shooting had just been a part of the play because it is so easy to get immersed into what you are experiencing as the performers, sounds and smells captivate an entire audience leaving you as a New Yorker in awe. In contrast, today’s Madison Square Garden Theater is way different now in the sense that security is littered throughout the structure covering every turn and hidden place. Honestly, with police officers and administrative members overseeing everyone who comes in and out of the building I don’t think a situation of Stanford White’s caliber will ever happen again. The way I see it in 2014 Harry Thaw gets his pistol confiscated at the entrance door of Madison Square Garden and Stanford White would carry on with his life
Additionally, a general problem with prior investigations is there isn’t any attention put on Evelyn Nesbit who was subjected to abuse and trauma from going into one unhealthy relationship to the next. Moreover, her role in Stanford White’s murder is unclear to many historians. Despite of what version or perspective a particular outlet is trying to put forth a prevalent theme I found in all stories is Nesbit’s physical and mental suffering. One witness at the scene that saw Evelyn Nesbit during the night of the shooting had said “I never saw a face more full of agony as she turned around” (New York Times 1906). With that being said, it is still a mystery of whether or not Nesbit played a significant role in this murder and if she had knowledge or some inkling of her husband’s intentions. Therefore, since there are many conflicting reports on whether she supported Stanford White’s murder I feel like the only people who know exactly what happened in that night of June 25th 1906 are Evelyn, Henry and Stanford. Evelyn Nesbit sort of gets lost in this love triangle, as there isn’t a lot of information as to why her young, prosperous career took such a sharp decline thereafter.
The shooting of Stanford White took place over one hundred years ago, but is still an extremely important part of New York City’s rich history. At the turn of the 20th century this case was called the “Trial of The Century” having elements of lust, love, revenge and in turn has transcended generations through adaptations in film. A prime example of this is in the 1955 movie adaptation “The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing” where Harry Thaw is depicted as a possessive husband that can’t live with what the concupiscent millionaire Stanford White had done to his wife. Another reason why this tragedy is so relevant to us New Yorker’s today is that the Madison Square Garden Theater in which this took place still exists today and is a prominent landmark in our culture. Personally, when I go to see the New York Knicks play on Christmas Day each year with my mother I look for an escape from life’s grueling stresses and this was one of those occasions where the “Surreal” meets the “realness” that applies to our everyday lives. This is crucial as we usually don’t think twice when seeing a sporting event, movie or spectacle with strangers and it is a grim reality of not only our city, but as human beings we inherently take a risk of something happening to us whenever we do allow ourselves to drop our guard and become fully submersed into a singular environment even if it is just for two hours. Often, our perception of what is real or entertainment is skewed and is rarely broken out of the fourth wall in arenas like Madison Square Garden making it all the more vital to study Stanford White’s murder. I truly find the city’s ability to bounce back after an event like this amazing and how they can still to this day trust in Madison Square as a place to enjoy themselves, bond with their close friends, family and fellow New Yorker’s.
In conclusion, Stanford White’s murder is an atrocity, however is a story that needs to be told in uncovering apart of Madison Square Garden’s lost history before it is gone forever. Unequivocally there is other tale shrouded with as much doubt and mystery in Madison Square Garden as the circumstances of White’s final hours. Even though, Stanford White’s had a tremendous hand in rebuilding Madison Square Garden and ensuring it is still present for many generations to come his legacy is quite unclear. Whether or not White will be remembered for his shortcoming or greatest accomplishments is still yet to be determined and can live through each New Yorker who comes to visit Madison Square Garden’s Theater if they should seek this information. Understandably so Stanford White, Henry Thaw and Evelyn Nesbit memory may disappear in time making it that more important to preserve this story to illustrate that Madison Square Garden has just about witnessed everything, and anything that has happened in New York City good, bad and indifferent.
1) Goldman, David. “The Stanford White Case: The First ‘Trial Of The Century’.” Biography 3.4 (1999): 20. Academic Search Complete. Web. 25 Feb. 2014.
2) The Love Triangle Interview Broadcast by PBS with Paula Urabura (Personal Interview)
3) New York American Political Cartoon http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/thaw/gardenmurder.html
4) Geary, Rich “Madison Square Tragedy: The Murder Of Stanford White.” Publishers Weekly 260.51 (2013): 45. Academic Search Complete. Web. 25 Feb. 2014.
5) Thaw Murders Stanford White – Shoots Him on the Madison Square Garden Roof. About Evelyn Nesbit ” He Ruined My Wife,” View Article – NYTimes.com. N.p., 26 June 1906. Web. 25 Feb. 2014.