Boston Garden, the last of the pre-Depression sports boxes and the oldest working arena in the country, is slated to come down soon after its replacement, the Shawmut Center, opens next fall. The plain but resilient building was built in 1928 by the promoter Tex Rickard after he took over the Garden in New York; its full name, Boston Madison Square Garden, understandably never went over with local fans. Boston Garden went on to host Prohibition meetings, FDR’s 1937 birthday fete, John Kennedy’s presidential-election-eve rally, and Bruins and Celtics games beyond number.
The building, which seats about fourteen thousand, is uncomfortable by early summer, but its lack of air conditioning has become a homecourt advantage, wearing down visiting clubs from air-cooled coliseums. And hockey has not been spared from the heat: One recent spring a Stanley Cup game was called when the ice began to melt.
During the Larry Bird era there was a ten-year wait for Celtics season tickets, and that demand is helping build the slightly larger Shawmut Center. But the Garden is not coming down before farewell engagements by every regular visitor from the Beanpot college hockey tournament to the Grateful Dead. Buy a ticket to see anything under its roof—basketball, a rock concert, the dog show—and look up at the forty-three championship banners that hang from its rafters.