Madison Square Garden was designed by Stanford White, an American architect, in 1890. He designed houses for the very wealthy, as well as many iconic public and religious buildings, including Washington Square Arch in New York (1889). He designed a series of high society mansions on Fifth Avenue and Long Island, and his famous “cottages” in Newport, Rhode Island (the cottages generally had double corridors, to ensure that a guest never bumped into a servant).
He lived a life of luxury and indulgence, and was well known for his penchant for young chorus girls. In his Madison Square apartment, girls "in varying degrees of undress" would entertain him. One of these was the actress Evelyn Nesbit. White had a brief sexual affair with Evelyn when she was 16, and he 47. This was to lead to his very public murder, six years later.
In the interim Nesbit had married millionaire Harry Kendall Thaw. Thaw had a reputation for being violent and paranoid, and held a long-standing grudge against White, who tended to be more popular with the chorus girls than Thaw.
In June 1906, White attended the premiere of a musical revue at the Madison Square Roof Garden. Thaw arrived at the premier in a long black overcoat, which he refused to remove. As the finale played on stage, Thaw walked straight up to White, and shot him three times in the face, killing him instantly. The subsequent trial was dubbed by the newspapers as the Trial of the Century. The events were fictionalised in the 1975 novel Ragtime.