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The Grandest Madison Square Garden

Art, Scandal, and Architecture in Gilded Age New York

Suzanne Hinman



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Syracuse University Press
30 July 2020
November 1891, the heart of Gilded Age Manhattan. Thousands filled the streets surrounding Madison Square, fingers pointing, mouths agape. After countless struggles, Stanford White-the country's most celebrated architect was about to dedicate America's tallest tower, the final cap set atop his Madison Square Garden, the country's grandest new palace of pleasure. Amid a flood of electric light and fireworks, the gilded figure topping the tower was suddenly revealed-an eighteen-foot nude sculpture of Diana, the Roman Virgin Goddess of the Hunt, created by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the country's finest sculptor and White's dearest pal.

The Grandest Madison Square Garden tells the remarkable story behind the construction of the second, 1890, Madison Square Garden and the controversial sculpture that crowned it. Set amid the magnificent achievements of nineteenth-century American art and architecture, the book delves into the fascinating private lives of the era's most prominent architect and sculptor and the nature of their intimate relationship. Hinman shows how both men pushed the boundaries of America's parochial aesthetic, ushering in an era of art that embraced European styles with American vitality. Situating the Garden's seminal place in the history of New York City, as well as the entire country, The Grandest Madison Square Garden brings to life a tale of architecture, art, and spectacle amid the elegant yet scandal-ridden culture of Gotham's decadent era.
By:   Suzanne Hinman
Imprint:   Syracuse University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm, 
ISBN:   9780815611219
ISBN 10:   0815611218
Series:   New York State Series
Pages:   472
Publication Date:   30 July 2020
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Suzanne Hinman holds a PhD in American art history. She has taught courses in art history at a number of colleges and universities, served as director of galleries at the Savannah College of Art and Design and associate director of the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth, and published essays on American art in a variety of journals.

Reviews for The Grandest Madison Square Garden: Art, Scandal, and Architecture in Gilded Age New York

Leaving no stone-or brick-unturned she weaves together every tantalizing aspect of the creation of Stanford White's magnificent Madison Square Garden. I found this in-depth work by Suzanne Hinman quite remarkable. Hinman's skillful narrative hand, sense of structure, and the incredible amount of historical detail she weaves into every chapter make a wonderful book for anyone who enjoys a great read. What a splendid book! This scholarly history of the second Madison Square Garden (1890-1925) provides an important addition to the story of New York City Gilded Age architecture, entertainment, and popular culture. This building, it must be noted, lasted only a few years. In a rapidly changing city, this Palace of Pleasure was torn down to make way for a great Cathedral of Insurance. Thus, this book is especially rich in expanding our knowledge of the work of the architect Stanford White and the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The author has read widely and presents her findings in highly readable prose. This is a book for scholars and lay readers alike. A detailed and wide-ranging account of the Gilded Age from its picaresque characters, social choreography, and cultural preferences to its volatile economy, favorite restaurants, and even construction technology, with Stanford White and his beloved Madison Square Garden at the center of it all. Hinman observes the complex lives of her subjects with assurance in this accessible study that will appeal to readers interested in late 19th-century American architecture and sculpture, New York City, and LGBTQ history. Hinman uses the construction of the second Madison Square Garden as an armature upon which to hang a depiction of the Gilded Age. The Grandest Madison Square Garden will appeal to a wide audience. It tells an inherently fascinating story and does so with evident enthusiasm. Ought to be in collections devoted to New York City, the Gilded Age, architecture, art, and entertainment history. . . . Highly Recommended.

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