Since You Asked…

Why was the Boston Garden named after, you know, a garden?

Richard A. Johnson, coauthor of The Boston Garden and curator of the Sports Museum at the arena’s current incarnation, TD Banknorth Garden: Tex Rickard would have had something to do with it. He’s the guy who built the Garden. Nigel Collins, editor of boxing magazine The Ring: Rickard was the Don King of his day. He was the first promoter to draw a million-dollar gate, the fight between Dempsey and Carpentier in 1921 in Jersey City. Johnson: He owned Madison Square Garden, and wanted to build different Gardens in different cities. Okay, but why was he stuck on the word "garden"? Ah, I didn’t research that specific topic for the book. But our Garden derives from Madison Square Garden. There’s still a Madison Square Garden Club in the TD Banknorth Garden today. It’s a dinner club. And how does one become a member of this club? Boston Madison Square Garden Club original bylaws, Article X: candidates to fill vacancies must be proposed by a member and seconded by another member of the club in writing. Johnson: What Rickard had in mind was a precursor to the luxury suite. Very la-di-da, no? He died before the Boston Garden was completed [in 1928]. Rickard wanted it to be known for boxing, but the Garden became common ground. It hosted church on Sundays. Dances. Churchill spoke there for a function for MIT. So sports weren’t the main attraction in the early days? Well, the Bruins won the championship in the Garden’s first year. Part of the rationale for building it was that the Bruins would be a good tenant. The city loved hockey back then. All those Irish immigrants were hockey fans? C. J. Doyle, who’s coauthoring a book about peerless Boston-Irish pol James Michael Curley: People forget this, but a lot of the Irish who settled in Boston were first from Canada. They stayed a generation or two and then came to New England. Johnson: Fans loved this player named Eddie Shore. He was the Ty Cobb of hockey. He’d bonk you over the head or try to slice your ear off. His name is evoked constantly in Slap Shot. Nancy Dowd, screenwriter for Slap Shot and a Framingham native: The reason that name comes up in the script is because of my father, a first-generation Irish American. I never really saw Eddie Shore, but his name in the house was always ‘The Great Eddie Shore." That’s what I thought his name was: The Great Eddie Shore. And so it is in the script. Exactly. As a writer, any idea why anyone would name an arena after a garden? A guess: ‘Garden" must come from jardin. Maybe not exclusively flowers and trees, but open public spaces—where one could escape one’s revolting toiletless Dickensian stinking hovel. Um, could be. Bryan Garner, author of Garner’s Modern American Usage: The best sense of "garden" for the arena context is "a place of amusement ornamented with plants"; in other words, a pleasure garden. Pleasure gardens open to the public have existed since ancient times. Originally they emphasized the pastoral settings, but soon many added various forms of entertainment. Like hosting Churchill or Eddie Shore? Even if there wasn’t so much as a potted plant to be seen.