cover image GARDEN OF DREAMS: Madison Square Garden 125 Years

GARDEN OF DREAMS: Madison Square Garden 125 Years

Pete Hamill, George Kalinsky, , intro. by Pete Hamill. . Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $35 (200pp) ISBN 978-1-58479-343-4

Madison Square Garden bills itself as the "world's most famous arena," and taking in this nostalgic tome makes it easy to see why: since the original arena's 1879 inception, it has witnessed a remarkable array of sports, entertainment and even religious events. In his introduction, writer Hamill (Forever ; etc.) chronicles the evolution of the Garden from a "drafty old building" that hosted P.T. Barnum's circus, through its opulent 1890 redesign by Stanford White, to the current model, unveiled in 1968. He deftly demonstrates how the physical changes, in location as well as building, the Garden has undergone over the years reflect New York's changing perception of itself from growing city to "gilded" metropolis, gangster's party town to capital of the world. Hamill's piece gives way to official Garden photographer Kalinsky's photos (as well as some non-Kalinsky images from as far back as 1920), which cover the entire spectrum of photographic styles as well as the diverse types of events that have called the Garden home, if only for a night. Short essays by entertainers (Woody Allen, Spike Lee, Billy Crystal), athletes (George Foreman, Peggy Fleming, John McEnroe) and other high-profile friends-of-the-Garden round out the volume. Although there are no behind-the-scenes or unusual photos here, this is still a bubbly, impressive chronicle of a New York landmark. (Nov.)