One of the funny things that happens in the world of New York real estate is that, perhaps because space is so valuable, particular institutions have been moved around a bit. Take, for example, Madison Square Garden, now located on Seventh Avenue and 34th Street. As its name might suggest, the Garden once occupied space at Madison Square, on the site that now holds the New York Life building. Originally a shed used to house horses for the New York and Harlem Railroad, P. T. Barnum leased the area in 1874, and built a brick wall around the open space, calling it the Great Roman Hippodrome, planning to use it to house his various entertainments. It wasn’t much used, though, and the lease was auctioned off to a bandleader, Patrick Gilmore, who filled the still-open space with trees plants and waterfalls, renamed it Gilmore’s Garden, and used it to present concerts.
Gilmore’s lease ended in 1879, and the place passed into the hands of W.M. Tileston, who offered various sports facilities there (like an early version of the Chelsea Piers) which included a riding school and an archery range.
Tileston renamed the place Madison Square Garden in 1879; it lasted until 1889, when it was demolished and replaced with a Stanford White-designed structure, aka MSG II, which lasted until 1925, when New York Life decided to build their offices on the site. MSG III, on Eighth Avenue, opened within the year, and lasted until the super-geniuses at the Pennsylvania Railroad decided an office complex and hatbox-from-hell arena were a better use of space than their original Penn Station, possibly the most beautiful building ever built in New York City.
Despite the protestations of many, Penn Station was destroyed, its innards left lying below street level, and MSG IV rose from the rubble (metaphorically speaking, of course: the pink granite and travertine which had comprised the structure were trucked out to landfills, and MSG was made from the shoddiest of late-modern materials).
In a final twist, New Yorkers may regain some semblance of a grand railway station in the proposed conversion of the Farley Post Office, across the street from MSG: a plan advanced by the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1999 has been creeping toward realization, and may now include the moving of MSG to a site behind the station. The present-day site of the Garden would be redeveloped into — what else? — an office complex.