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The St. Nicholas Rink, also called the St. Nicholas Arena, was an indoor ice rink, and later a boxing arena in New York, New York, from 1896 until 1962. The rink was the second ice rink utilizing mechanically frozen ice for its surface in North America, (the second after the North Avenue Ice Palace in Baltimore, Maryland built in 1894), enabling a longer season for skating sports. It was demolished in the 1980s.
As a rink, it was used for pleasure skating, and the sports of ice hockey and skating. It was an important rink in the development of both sports in the United States. As a boxing arena, it was one of the first legal venues for boxing and remained a busy venue until its closing, although as the popularity of boxing grew, the sport outgrew the capacity of the arena to hold title fights. The arena hosted live boxing on television.
St. Nicholas Rink opened November 7, 1896, at 69 West 66th Street, on the northeast corner of 66th Street and Columbus Avenue. The builders included Cornelius Vanderbilt and John Jacob Astor. Flagg and Chambers were the architects. The ice rink used a mechanically frozen ice or "artificial ice" surface using techniques developed at the Glaciarium in London, England. A basement ice-making factory shared the ice-making equipment. The arena was used exclusively for ice sports until 1906, when boxing was introduced. In 1911, prize fight boxing was legalized and prize fights became a popular event at the arena. By 1920, the use of the arena for boxing made the ice rink dispensable and it was removed. The building continued as a boxing venue until 1962. The building itself was used as the television production center for the ABC Network and local station WABC-TV where Eyewitness News was broadcast. The building was demolished in the 1980s and the site converted to main offices of ABC Network.
The rink was the home of the St. Nicholas hockey club of the (New York) Amateur Hockey League. The league operated its first season in 1896–97. The rink was also the site of numerous exhibitions of Canadian ice hockey teams both against New York area teams and between the Canadian teams. A challenge between amateur teams of the U.S. and Canada was held there, called the "International Amateur Championship".
The arena was the site of the first game between women's ice hockey teams in the United States. In 1917, the St. Nicholas team defeated Boston 1–0.
The St. Nicholas men's amateur team eventually moved to Madison Square Garden and played on Sunday afternoons in the Eastern Amateur Hockey League.
The Rink was a boxing venue from 1906 until May 28, 1962, the date of the last main event. Upon its demise, it was reported that more than 30,000 fights had been staged here. (Others estimate 10,000, to 15,000, to 20,000.) Accounts in The New York Times say that boxing greats like Jack Johnson, Jess Willard, Kid Chocolate, Rocky Graziano and Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) all fought there; the former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson fought his first professional match there in 1952. The last TV series on the DuMont network was Boxing from St. Nicholas Arena which went off the air August 6, 1956.
The arena was also formative in the growing sport of figure skating. Championships were held at the rink starting in 1897. The last championship, a "North American Championship" was held in 1918.
- Ritter, Lawrence S. (1998). East Side, West Side: Tales of New York Sporting Life, 1910-1960. New York, NY: Total Sports. ISBN 978-0-9656949-6-4 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
- Kirsch, George B.; Harris, Othello and Nolte, Claire Elaine (2000). Encyclopedia of Ethnicity and Sports in the United States. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. pg. 215. ISBN 0-313-29911-0 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
- White, Norval; Willensky, Elliot; Leadon, Fran, AIA Guide to New York City, Oxford University Press, 2010. Cf. p.358.
- "Saint Nicholas Arena", boxrec.com
- "OLD BOXING CENTER ON WEST SIDE SOLD; St. Nicholas Arena Bought by Webb & Knapp; May Be Used for TV Sports Spectacles", The New York Times, January 9, 1952
- "A Skating Rink/Boxing Ring, And a Wild and Crazy Facade". The New York Times. February 6, 2005. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
- "Timeline of Tradition". Harvard Athletics. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
- Miller, Ernestine (2002). Making Her Mark. McGraw-Hill Professional. pp. pg. 161. ISBN 978-0-07-139053-8 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
- "STREETSCAPES: A Skating Rink/Boxing Ring, And a Wild and Crazy Facade", The New York Times, February 6, 2005