Today in History: Madison Square Garden Opens First Artificial Indoor Ice Rink in the U.S.
By M.C. Millman
On February 12, 1879, Madison Square Garden indoor sports arena opened the first artificial indoor ice rink in the United States.
The new indoor hockey rink boasted over a mile of wrought-iron pipes, which transported liquid ammonia brine through the floor, where it was chilled to the freezing point of water. Then, when water was sprayed on the surface, it froze. The rink had four inches of ice kept frozen in that manner and weighing several tons.
The original Madison Square Garden opened in 1874, converting a railroad station at Madison Square into an indoor sports arena before the arena relocated in 1925 to 50th Street and Eighth Avenue.
The present Madison Square Garden arena opened in 1968 at the site of the former Pennsylvania Station on 33rd Street and Eighth Avenue. It was renovated in 1991 and boasts a 20,000-seat arena used not only for circuses, ice shows, and conventions but also for the Siyum Hashas over the years.
The 11th Siyum Hashas, which took place on February 25, 2019. 2019 was the last year the Madison Square Garden arena was used, as the huge number of attendees filled not only the Continental Airlines Arena in New Jersey but also the Jacob K. Javits Center in Manhattan due to high, last-minute demand.