Remembering the Real “Garden”

A view from outside the old Garden.

After reading a recent story by Carl Desberg discussing the history of Fenway’s Green Monster, I decided to reminisce a little about the old Boston Garden.

When TD Bank (then TD Banknorth) bought the naming rights in 2005 they dubbed the former Fleetcenter/Shawmut Center the TD Banknorth Garden in honor of the fallen Boston Garden.

Despite the homage, it never felt quite right to refer to TD Garden as “The Garden.” That name was reserved for the original Garden, one of the most unique arenas in sports.

The Boston Garden held so much history for hockey fans and Boston sports fans alike. The arena was completed in 1928 and was originally intended to be a Boston version of New York’s Madison Square Garden. In fact, the original name was “Boston Madison Square Garden” before being shortened to “Boston Garden.”

The Garden was originally built to host boxing matches but quickly evolved into an all encompassing sports arena, but the arena was not quite built to general NHL rink standards. Standard NHL rinks are 200 feet long by 85 feet wide but the rink at the Boston Garden was 191 feet long by 83 feet wide.

Playing in the slightly smaller rink gave the Bruins a distinct advantage over their opposition. “It was a tough building to play in,” Paul Ysebaert, former winger of the Detroit Red Wings, once said. “They had a small ice surface, and they got the right players to perform in that type of rink. Every game was tough, with lots of bumping and grinding. You had to change your game plan to mold into that kind of rink.”

The way the arena was structured, the upper balcony literally hung right over the ice, giving fans a unique experience and giving them the impression that they were literally part of the game.

Because of the close proximity of the fans to the playing surface, the building was literally deafening when the fans began cheering on their boys in black and gold.

“The building itself when coming in to play gave maybe a goal and a half, two goal advantage or lead right off the bat, which was nice. The fans were right on top of the players with the balconies. It was close and just a fun place to play.” ~ former Bruin Don Marcotte.

“It was fun because the fans were right above you in the overhang. You could hear the fans cheering for you or yelling at you one way or the other and they enjoyed it too because they could hear what we were saying on the ice. It was just so much fun because the building was a little bit smaller, so you really enjoyed it.” ~ Bruins Hall of Famer Johnny Bucyk.

The TD Garden certainly gave the Bruins and their fans a better built, more modern arena but much of the charm and aura of the original Garden was lost with its destruction. The rink now measures to NHL standards and the fans are a bit further away from the action. The atmosphere of the Boston Garden will perhaps never be replaced.

The Bruins last took the ice at the Boston Garden on September 28, 1995 in a pre-season game against their ultimate

Bruins banners flying high at the legendary arena.

rivals the Montreal Canadiens, a fitting end to the historic building.

The Boston Garden saw five Stanley Cup banners soar to the rafters, saw Bobby Orr take flight and saw Phil Esposito assault NHL record books. Other Bruins legends like Cheevers, Neely, O’Reilly, Bourque, Clapper and Shore skated on the fabled Garden ice. The Garden was where legends played.

The aura of the old Garden is physically gone, but will forever live on in spirit for those who played on it’s fabled ice and for those who watched the old school Bruins bruising battles. Sorry TD Garden, but there is only one place that will forever be known as “The Garden.”

20 comments on “Remembering the Real “Garden””

  1. Carl Desberg says:

    Not to mention how damn hot it got during basketball games in the building. Talk about home court advantage.

    1. Jon says:

      Still not sure how they kept the ice from melting. 😉

  2. Guest says:

    No heat, No AC, Feet stuck to the floor, Smelled like stale beer and piss. Yeah it was a gem allright

    1. Jon says:

      Might not have been the best built arena, but had by far the best atmosphere.

    2. joegill88 says:

      The fans were right on top of the action and the place shooked when the Bruins scored. The light went out and the fog! Thats character! Thats the Gaaaaahhhhden!

  3. Kevin says:

    Still have a brick. Oh, the good old days!!!

  4. Scott says:

    I was lucky enough to see a Celtics game at the Garden on Easter 1985 – i fell in love with the place.

    first, the seating went straight up and, i thought at least, gave everyone a great view of the game (other than those behind the supports way back in the upper deck).

    it was the best basketball atmosphere i've ever seen – because of Red, it was all about the game – simple, understated, no blaring music or PA, no light show and damn sure no idiotic dancers.

    i will never forget the opening PA announcement when the Celts came out of the side tunnel for warmups – "ladies and gentleman, your world champion Boston Celtics" – it gave me chills.

  5. H. SHANAFELT says:

    The Mighty BOSTON GAAHDEN !! At the Stop of the trains at NORTH Station!

    Most ' Metrologically' phenominon in its' history. A game was played in the 1970s' and

    a thick fog hung over the playing surface of the ice. The Bs' came out and the fog

    began to disapate as the team had their warm –up skate. The reasoning was that the

    atmosphere outside the building, AND inside the building was build up a thermal

    condition the result being the "Fog Phenominon " on the Ice. The rapid circular motion

    of the Teams' Warm — up skate caused it to dissapate.

  6. justin says:

    ight not have been the best built arena, but had by far the best atmosphere. Best USSSA Softball Bats

  7. This is why I suggested the Netbeans + JDK bundle for those experimenting with Java, as it handles the complex set up for you, which will save you hours of suffering.

  8. addisabner says:

    Might not have been the best built arena, but had by far the best atmosphere.
    v2 cigs electronic cigarette

  9. furuno gps says:

    Not to mention how damn hot it got during basketball games in the building. Talk about home court advantage

  10. Might not have been the best designed field, but had by far the best environment.

  11. jhon says:

    Not to mention how damn hot it got during basketball games in the building. Talk about home court advantage

  12. In addition to how really hot it got during golf games in the building.

  13. Steve says:

    After reading other people posts…"best atmosphere, environment, sticky floor, and the likes. I have been to several Celtics and Bruins games, sitting behind a post, craning my neck to see the actions, smoke and fog filled the arena, the stale smell of everything since it was built and many more to list. I have been to other hockey, baseball, football stadiums from all level of professional (Triple AA, and so forth)… Some spanking brand new, some old…I did have a good time watching in those arenas but nothing like The Boston Garden and Fenway Park. I am trying to find the word to describe the special connection between me and these two arenas…feel, feeling, sensation, sense, spirit, attribute, character, characteristic, image, mark, notion, peculiarity, picture, property, trait, color, illusion, overtone, semblance, suggestion, and tone. None of these words doesn't work. The only word that I can relate to Boston Garden and Fenway Park…Boston.

  14. Thank you Maise & oldtreehugger. This guy was happy to pose and seemed to shout "NEVERMORE!" at one point! Probably wanting a Dorito or something. The pic of him shouting didn't come out too well though.

  15. Peggy says:

    I’ve seen pro boxing, Aerosmith, Bad Co., Santana, and numerous events at the Garden. Yes it was hot and even down right nasty on occasion, some things your mind tends to minimize or even forget (like the pain of child birth.) For a nicer venue there was always the Orpheum or Hynes. But it was “The Garden” ease of moving about (Not a Sit in Your Seat & Stay There). Championship banners (Pride), easy in & out on the train. What was the bar downstairs? The Iron Horse?

  16. Anne says:

    My husband (boyfriend at the time) graduated from Northeastern at the Garden in 1974. He looked up from the floor and saw me in “the heavens”, now that’s amazing!!

  17. Scott says:

    Pure Sports and Entertainment Heaven ! … When my time comes , there will be a Beautiful Old Boston Garden in My Heaven !

    On Earth , they should get rid of the Imposter next door , find the original blueprints and rebuild Slightly Larger with Modern Amenities , and all the same angles /sight lines .

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