Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

Ethnography Study: Key Findings

August 8, 2010

by Amy McLeod
August 8, 2010

Culture is defined as “the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc” (  In this way, Madison Square Garden serves as a place for people of a similar culture to congregate in support of something.  This is different than most areas in New York City.

Every neighborhood in NYC has its own culture, an aspect unique to the area, that is both defined by the people who live there and that defines those people.  The Upper East Side is ritzy.  Soho is trendy.  Chelsea is gay-friendly.  Greenwich Village is artsy.   Madison Square Garden is distinct because its “culture” changes daily.  Depending on the event taking place in the Graden and the people who choose to attend the event, the culture will change.

In studying Madison Square Garden, I was faced with many different types of information – both subjective and objective.  Everyone who has an experience or a memory regarding Madison Square Garden adds to the ethnographic makeup of the arena.  However, each of these is only a small aspect of the study.  These are subjective elements because they all believe that their experience is the most important or valuable.  It is my job, as the researcher, to understand how these subjective aspects relate to the ethnography as a whole.

These stories and memories do make up a huge part of the ethnography of Madison Square Garden.  Because it is such a diverse space, it’s important to know what types of experiences have been had in the arena.  It is also important, however, to do objective research about the space.  Why was it built above Penn Station?  What types of entertainment is it designed to accommodate?  How has technology changed MSG?   These are objective questions that were answered either through research or by speaking with someone who works at Madison Square Garden.

The combination of information gained through both objective and subjective sources allowed me to get a full understanding of the ethnography of Madison Square Garden.  Having one of these types of understanding without the other would leave the research only partially complete and lacking important elements.

Those who have a unique experience or memory create knowledge.  The combination of all of these different elements together forms knowledge.  Each memory is valuable and represents a different aspect of our understanding so, with each that is added, a greater knowledge is achieved.  It is through the gathering of many different experiences with Madison Square Garden that I began to piece together my understanding of the arena.  With each interview or bit of research that I did, my ethnographic knowledge was enhanced.   Particularly with a location that is as diverse and variable as Madison Square Garden, each new bit of knowledge goes a long way in helping me understand the magnitude of Madison Square Garden.

As mentioned, MSG’s culture varies immensely with each day.  Because the Garden hosts everything from the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show to a Lady Gaga concert to a New York Knicks basketball game, the culture is always changing.  Because of this, it was my job as the ethnographer to understand each individual aspect of MSG.   I could not simply learn about the concerts that are hosted or the basketball games that are played.  In order to do the arena justice, I had to research all of the different elements that are present in MSG.  Simple research would not cut it, either.  It was my responsibility to experience MSG for myself. I had to understand the history of the arena and what it strives to achieve.  I had to understand it as more than just an arena, but as a cultural and historical icon.

Madison Square Garden: Informative Flyer

August 2, 2010

by Amy McLeod
August 2, 2010

My “street” is Madison Square Garden.  Though I cannot provide a guide through the actual arena, I can provide an informative flyer that could be available in the MSG concourse and online for viewers to see.

Click here to see the flyer of Madison Square Garden

Nine weeks in a nutshell

August 1, 2010

by Amy McLeod
August 1, 2010

In all honesty, I didn’t think I would be able to handle this city.  I thought it would take me the entire summer to learn the subway system.  I thought I would never feel completely comfortable in the city.  I thought I would be so ready to go back to North Carolina, back to the familiar and the easy-going lifestyle.

And yes, I am ready to go home.  I’m ready to be able to drive my car and get some real sweet tea.  But I am going to miss this place.  I’m going to miss the hustle-and-bustle of the city and the constant excitement.

I’m still not ready to graduate.  But my time in New York has made me both more confident and more excited to graduate.  I know now that I can live on my own and take care of myself.

I’ve always been very close with my family and anticipated moving back to Raleigh after graduation.  That’s definitely still an option, but I know now that I am not limited.  I took on New York City and came out (relatively) unscathed.   If I can do that in NYC, I feel confident that I can live anywhere.

For me, this summer was so much more than just an internship and a class.  It was a chance for me to push myself and test my boundaries.  And while I’m still not keen on the idea of growing up and being a real person, I am excited to know that I can and will survive.

Final thoughts on first impressions

August 1, 2010

by Amy McLeod
August 1, 2010

In my first post, I expressed feelings of anxiety and excitement, hope and uncertainty.  I was excited to learn about the city and about myself.  I am pleased to say that I did.  A lot of the anxiety that I mentioned has proved to be unfounded.  The people are wonderful, the city is less scary than expected and my time here couldn’t have been better.

In the presence of greatness

June 30, 2010

By Amy McLeod
June 30, 2010

Our visits on Monday to Hill Holliday, Viacom and the New York Times were three that I will not soon forget.  All representing very different areas, these organizations are impressive and are all doing very innovative things.

Hill Holliday is best known for its work with Verizon Wireless.  Everyone knows the “Can you hear me now?” guy.  Everyone knows the red check mark.  Everyone knows that Verizon is known for its good, reliable coverage.  And pretty soon, everyone will know the “Rule the Air” slogan and the new way that Verizon is going to represent itself.   This new campaign is focused not on what Verizon can do for you, but what you can do with Verizon.

Watch one of the new Verizon ads below…

Hill Holiday spends a lot of its time and energy on Verizon Wireless, but also has clients such as BMW, Bank of America, Chili’s and GM.  Hill Holliday is doing a lot of experiential marketing with Verizon and BMW.  This type of marketing brings about an engaged clientele, benefitting both parties.

Viacom, and specifically the MTV Network, is a huge industry.  I was shocked at how many television stations they own and how large the corporation really is.  They have media designed specifically for audiences that range from toddlers with Nick Jr. to baby boomers and beyond with TV Land.  They have stations geared toward men, women and teens.  This variety makes the company one that advertisers love because there is undoubtedly a spot in which a commercial will be appropriate.

In hearing about the MTVN Internship Program, one thing was clear.  The MTV Network greatly values their interns and the unique gifts and ideas that they all bring to the job.  They are encouraged to be themselves, to be creative and to have fun.  They understand that it is when the interns have the freedom to think without restraint that they will bring the most to the network.

To be in the New York Times newsroom was, to say the least, a dream come true.  As a print journalism major – the last one of my kind – that is the kind of place that I aspire to be.  It is the place where breaking news is broken.  It is the place where Pulitzer Prize winning writers are born and bred.  It is the place where the nation and world turn when they want the most accurate, up-to-date and hard-hitting news.

It was amazing to see the new and innovative things that the New York Times is doing.  They are determined to be at the cutting edge of the news and media industry.  And after seeing some of the things that they’ve come up with, I am certain that the New York Times will continue to bring about creative ways for its audience to experience the news.  I’m excited to see where the New York Times will take the news industry.

It seems to me that Hill Holliday, Viacom and the New York Time are all leaders in their respective areas.  They are responsible for cutting edge developments and are continuing to push the envelope.  It was an absolute honor to visit these three companies.

Brave New World?

June 21, 2010

by Amy McLeod
June 20, 2010

America is the land of opportunity, right?

Yeah…prove it.

I can guarantee you that if I had recently immigrated to the United States and found myself in the middle of Manhattan, those old adages would do little to comfort me.

As I step out of Penn Station and look around me, I am completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of the city.  I mean, I knew it was big, but this is just ridiculous.

With little money and even less experience in this city, I honestly have no idea where to begin.  I suppose that I would do as much research as I could and I would go around to small, local businesses.  I would seek out people with whom I can communicate and who are willing to help me get my feet on the ground.  I would desperately need to establish some sort of support system for myself.

I would probably be a expert, using this tool to find a roommate, a cheap apartment and simple jobs such as dog walking.

I would attempt to work several jobs, doing everything I could to become familiar with the city.  I would also enroll in night classes specifically for the purpose of learning English, but also to expand my knowledge in business and communications.  These are two prominent industries in NYC and knowledge in them would be a huge help in the job market.

Ultimately, I can’t even begin to imagine how overwhelmed I would be if this scenario weren’t completely hypothetical.  Even as an educated, English-speaking, capable young woman, this city can be extremely intimidating.

Though I can’t imagine ever going to a place when I have no roots and no connections, I definitely think it would have been a much easier task in the early 1900s.   The whole city was made up of immigrants and there were jobs galore.  It was easy to find people who could relate to you and who were willing to help you. They have all been in your position.

Stepping off the boat onto Ellis Island would bring with it some of the same feelings as stepping out of Penn Station.  However, with the way New York City operates today, with the fast-paced, cut-throat nature of it all, I think I would have much preferred to be arriving about 100 years earlier.

The Evolution of the World’s Most Famous Arena

June 20, 2010

by Amy McLeod
June 20, 2010

The history of Madison Square Garden dates back centuries, and it’s a history that is vibrant and full of excitement and transformation.  It was named for James Madison, the fourth president of the United States.  It has seen many changes, both in location, architecture, and purpose and it is still a prominent area in the landscape of New York City.

Madison Square Park is bordered by Fifth and Madison Avenues and 23rd and 26th streets.   It is located in the Flatiron District and is full of 19th century statues and landmarks from the Gilded Age.  Madison Square has had many different functions and was, at one time, the center of the city. What began as a swamp has led – after about three centuries – to one of the most popular arenas in the world.

Madison Square, the area that shares its name with the current Madison Square Garden, began as a natural, wooded area.  It’s ironic that, for a place that is so heavily populated today, the Lenape Indians found no value in the area.  Starting when the Dutch arrived in the early 1600s, the swampy land was used as a hunting ground.  Since that initial habitation, the land has been greatly utilized by the people living around it.

Beginning in 1807, the area where Madison Square now sits became known as “The Parade.” It was transformed from a swamp into an arsenal and a barracks, used by the military.  In 1825, the arsenal became a house of refuge and was used by the Society for the Protection of Juvenile Delinquents for adolescents who were committed by the courts.  Children who were taken from their parents because of mental or physical ailments live on this land.  This was the purpose of the park until the building burned in 1938 and a cottage was built.

Madison Cottage

The cottage was named “Madison Cottage” by William “Corporal” Thompson and the land took on the same name.   The cottage was a stopping point for immigrants either moving to or from the north.  The land took on the role as an unofficial public park.

It is suggested that the game of baseball began in Madison Square, as the New York Knickerbocker Base Ball Club was the first organized, professional club to play the sport. “The club first started play in 1842, but it was not until 1845 that the club formally organized. Under the leadership of club president and committee chairman Dr. Daniel Lucius Adams, the Committee to Revise the Constitution and By-Laws created a set of 20 rules to govern the club” (Briggs).  Alexander Cartwright was instrumental in the creation of the rules and the sport.

Madison Square Park in 1896.

Madison Square was opened as an official public park on May 10, 1847. Madison Cottage stood until 1853 and was destroyed to make way for the Fifth Avenue Hotel.

This hotel, which opened in 1859, was the first to use an elevator and to offer such luxurious accommodations.  The hotel was home to many wealthy New Yorkers and politicians and hosted most of New York’s most elegant events.

Along with the hotel came Madison Square’s growth and place as the center of New York City.  “With the opening of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, the area started to become the center of New York’s social life. Many major hotels moved into the area, followed by retailers and the entertainment industry” (Madison).   Venues such as Madison Square Theatre and the Chickering Hall came to Madison Square, establishing even more it’s place as the center of the city.

Madison Square Park with the Fifth Avenue Hotel to the left and the torch from the Statue of Liberty on the right.

The park remained a huge part of the landscape of New York City and was relandscaped  by William Grant and Ignatz Pilat in 1870.  With this renovation came many statues and sculptures that are still present in the park today.  There is a memorial dedicated to Secretary of State William H. Seward, who is remembered for purchasing Alaska from Russia.  There are also statues of Roscoe Conkling, President Chester Alan Arthur and Admiral David Farragut.  An ornate fountain was also brought to the park.  In 1876, as a part of the centennial celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the torch and arm of the Statue of Liberty were put on display in the park.  There were displayed as a way to make money for the construction of the Statue of Liberty.

The first Madison Square Garden was built in 1879.  It was built in the place of an old hippodrome.  Madison Square Garden was a cycling venue and led to Madison racing, a bicycling event that is still an Olympic sport.  The race is a treacherous one, that “confirms the assumption, no longer much contested, that the human animal is superior to other animals.  This undisputed thing is being said in too solemn and painful a way at Madison Square Garden” (A Brutal).

This arena hosted circuses and boxing matches and held 10,000 spectators.   It was also the site of the first indoor ice hockey rink in the United States.  As with many things in New York City during this time, the Vanderbilt family was instrumental in the creation and operation of the arena.

The second Madison Square Garden, with Diana on top of the tower.

The first Madison Square Garden was demolished and replaced with the second arena in 1890.  It was designed by Stanford White, an architect who lived in the tower of the arena.  Ironically, White was killed in 1906 in Madison Square Garden’s rooftop restaurant.

This arena was designed with Moorish influenced architecture and had a tower that reached 32 stories above Madison Square Park.  The second Madison Square Garden was topped with a copper statue of Diana that spun with the wind.  The statue gave Madison Square the nickname “Diana’s little wooded park”.  At the time of it’s construction, this building was the second tallest in New York City.  It had seating for 8,000 and floor space for thousands more.

The Flatiron Building, built in 1902

With the new Madison Square Garden, Madison Square remained at the center of one of Manhattan’s most elite areas.   At the turn of the 20th century, Madison Square and the area around it became the home to several new tall buildings.  First, in 1902, the Flatiron Building was erected.  It was daringly thin and its shape gave it the name “Flatiron”.  Then, in 1909, the MetLife Tower was built.  At 51 stories, it was the tallest building in the world.

Madison Square was home of the first Christmas tree in New  York.  The large community tree was on lit up on Christmas Eve in 1912.

In her novel, My Mortal Enemy, Willa Cather describes Madison Square circa 1915 in this way: “Madison Square was then at the parting of the ways; had a double personality, half commercial, half social, with shops to the south and residences to the north. It seemed to me so neat, after the raggedness of our Western cities; so protected by good manners and courtesy – like an open-air drawing-room” (Cather).

It was a place of great wealth and lavish surroundings.  It was defined by its commercial and social atmostphere and was host to many elite events and people in Manhattan.

Just before the second Madison Square Garden arena was destroyed, it hosted the 1924 Democratic National Convention.  Shortly after the convention, the building was torn down and the New York Life Insurance Building was built.   This building, with it’s gold top, is one of the most beautiful and recognizable landmarks in New York City today.

The third Madison Square Garden was moved from Madison Square and built on 50th Street and 8th Avenue.  It opened in 1925 and held nearly 18,500 spectators.

The third Madison Square Garden

Tex Rickard built the arena and it became known as “The House that Tex Built”.   The arena was host to the New York Knicks, New York Rangers and many entertainment events.  The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus originally performed at the second Madison Square Garden in 1919 and were a huge success.  They continued to perform in the new arena as many as three times a day well through the 1930s.

Though it held countless NBA and NCAA basketball games and entertainment and political events, this particular MSG was known mostly for its boxing matches.   It is the backdrop for the 2005 film Cinderella Man and was home to many of the most watched boxing matches to date, showcasing boxers such as Fritzie Zivic, Henry Armstrong and Jack Dempsey.   The arena was torn down in 1968 and is now the home to the Worldwide Plaza.

Finally, the fourth Madison Square Garden was opened in February of 1968.  Under the direction of R.E. McKee, the structure of the building is very unique.  It is situated on top of Pennsylvania Station, on 8th Avenue between 31st and 33rd Streets.   Irving Mitchell Felt, the chairman of Madison Square Garden, said “it stands at the true center of America’s commerce industry, culture and the arts.  It is a world center” (Hollander).

The Garden now plays host to the St. John’s Red Storm, the WWE, New York Rangers, New York Knicks, New York Liberty, New York Titans, New York Knights and New York CityHawks.  It has hosted both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. It is also home to numerous graduations and award shows.

The current Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden, which underwent massive renovation in 1991, has hosted many historical events.  These include the first Joe Frazier-Muhammad Ali fight and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The most popular and prominent musicians have performed in Madison Square Garden. Billy Joel said, “Madison Square Garden is the center of the universe as far as I’m concerned. It has the best acoustics, the best audiences, the best reputation, and the best history of great artists who have played there.  It is the iconic, holy temple of Rock and Roll for most touring acts and being a New Yorker, it holds a special significance to me” (

Madison Square Garden has been the backdrop for many television shows and movies and is even referenced in video games.  This building is unique in accessability, structure and adaptability.  With 200,000 people passing through Penn Station every day, and the scope of events that the arena has to offer, it seems there is nothing this building can’t do or hasn’t done.

Madison Square Garden has been compared to the Colosseum, the Crystal Palace and the Hippodrome.  All road led to the Colosseum.  The Crystal Palace was the world center for exhibits and exhibition.  And the Hippodrome was the center of entertainment.  Madison Square Garden is and does all of those things.  It is, as they say, “The World Most Famous Arena.”

The World's Most Famous Arena


1.  “A Brutal Exhibition.” New York Times 11 Dec. 1897: 8. Print.

2.  Briggs, Mike. “Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York – BR Bullpen.” – Major League Baseball Statistics and History. 1 Nov. 2006. Web. 17 June 2010. <;.

3.  Cather, Willa. My Mortal Enemy. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1926. Print.

4.  Hollander, Zander. Madison Square Garden; a Century of Sport and Spectacle on the World’s Most Versatile Stage. New York: Hawthorn, 1973. Print.

5.  Jackson, Kenneth T. The Encyclopedia of New York City. New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 1995. Print.

6.  “Madison Square, New York City.” A View On Cities. Web. 16 June 2010. <;.

7.  “Madison Square Park – Historical Facts.” Madison Square Park Conservancy – Home. Web. 16 June 2010. <;.

8.  “ – Press Releases – Madison Square Garden, Radio City Named Venues of the Decade.” – Home. 21 Dec. 2009. Web. 16 June 2010. <;.

9.  Nakate, Shashank. “History of Madison Square Garden.” Buzzle Web Portal: Intelligent Life on the Web. Web. 17 June 2010. <;

10.  “New York Architecture Images- Madison Square Garden.” Nyc-architecture | New York Architecture- Historic and Contemporary. Web. 17 June 2010. <;.

11.  Schumach, Murray. “Ext and Last Attraction at Old Madison Square Garden to Be Wreckers’ Ball.” New York Times 14 Feb. 1968. Print.

Madison Square Garden: From 1609 to 2010

June 14, 2010

by Amy McLeod
June 13, 2010

Madison Square Garden is in a very busy, hectic area of New York City.  It is right next to Penn Station and only a few short blocks from Times Square.  The hustle-and-bustle of this area stands in stark contrast to the way the block – and the entire island – was before settlement by the Dutch.

I am fascinated by the fact that the arena is right in the middle of the city.  In most of my experience, large arenas and venues are on the outskirts of a large city.  However, it is a great location for the arena as it is right next to Penn Station.  It is an easy location for tourists and residents alike and attracts visitors from all of the surrounding states as well.

At the time when the Lenape Native Americans inhabited present day Manhattan, the area was a completely natural, forested region. The area was almost exclusively till and schist, making it not ideal for growing crops.  It was a hilly region and was covered with pine forest trees.

The block where Madison Square Garden sits now was not used much by the Lenape.  It was about 1,300 meters away from the nearest settlement and 10 meters from the nearest trail.  There was little to hunt in the area and not much in terms of gathering, either.  There were some berry bushes that were used by the people, but it was not an area that was often inhabited or utilized.

The industry that is most present in Madison Square Garden today is Arts, Entertainment and Recreation.  With the events that take place in the arena, these jobs are the most important and the most appropriate.

SoHo to Canal: A mixture of old and new, rough and contemporary

April 20, 2010

by Amy McLeod
April 19, 2010

I chose to view the slideshow that documented SoHo to Canal Street, from Broadway to the West Side Highway.  I selected this slideshow because I had always heard about SoHo and Canal Street, but I have never visited them.  I was intrigued and knew the slideshow would give me a good idea of the area.

I was really thrown off when I saw the first pictures of SoHo.  The buildings are stone or brick, there were no pedestrians and no evidence of landscaping. The area I had always imagined to be vibrant and alive appears cold and unappealing.  Graffiti is everywhere, making the area look rundown and rough. As the images take me through the area, I see a lot of evidence of construction and attempts to revamp the area.  I am also beginning to see little markets and restaurants, the first signs that people actually live in the area.

As I continue through the slideshow, the pictures display more residential areas and more appealing scenery.  Outdoor cafes appear to be popular and the occasional hot dog stand is popping up.  This leads me to believe I am entering a more commercial, tourist-heavy area. The buildings look more contemporary and clean, though some buildings are still tagged with graffiti.

As the slideshow takes me further, the pedestrian traffic picks up, buildings look still nicer and the streets are lined with trees.   Brand name shops are obvious and it is clear that we are in a more commercial area.  I’m beginning to see the outdoor shops that are synonymous with Canal Street.  The construction has continued, but I’m realizing that’s probably pretty normal for any NY street.

This slideshow taught me one very important lesson.  Within a matter of blocks, you can be in a completely different neighborhood, with a completely different atmosphere.  We went from rundown to commercial, from vacant to frantically active.  All in a matter of a few blocks, I witnessed two very different ends of the NYC spectrum.