The Garden and The Piers

Westminster 137 will have the best of both worlds.

For the first time in its history, the Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will stage its event in two spectacular venues. The 137th edition will once again, as it has in virtually every year of its existence, have competition in the Groups on Monday and Tuesday nights, February 11-12, 2013, and eventually crown the Best In Show winner on Tuesday evening at the World's Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden.

New in 2013 is the shift of the breed judging during those days to Piers 92/94 on the West side of Manhattan, a few blocks north of the Garden. The Piers offers over 200,000 square feet of column-free exhibition space and 20-foot high ceilings, and views of the Hudson River and New York City skyline. Here, Westminster and Show Superintendent MB-F will create a setting with 12 rings, lots of benching, and plenty of space for exhibitors, spectators and vendors.

The Piers are just that, two long separate side-by-side piers jutting like fingers out into the Hudson River (separating New York and New Jersey). It is a beautiful setting for the home of many trade shows and special art, fashion and design events during the course of the year. Many dog fanciers may remember back to the days in the 1990s when Pier 92 hosted what has become the Meadowlands Specialty Dog Shows in New Jersey in recent years, held the weekend before Westminster.

The move to the Piers, and the resultant increase in space - in particular, benching space that has been lost recently due to Madison Square Garden's transformation - allows Westminster to increase its entry limit to 3,200 dogs for the first time since 1991. The entry limit is the highest it has ever been since the Club installed limits (2,500 in 1941, then 3,000 in 1970, then back to 2,500 in 1982). The limit was lowered to 2,000 in 2012 as the benching area had lost significant space.

So, back will come the plywood benching and signs on the walls, allowing spectators to find a favorite breed or an individual dog that they want to see up close and personal. The Westminster legacy of educating the public about purebred dogs and responsible ownership will come front and center once again.

Westminster has been at the Garden from the beginning, one of only three tenants to stage their event in every one of the four incarnations of Madison Square Garden. "The World's Most Famous Arena" dates back to 1879, making it one of the few New York institutions that has been around nearly as long as Westminster. The Garden has been home to the dog show in all but seven years in its history.

From 1877 through 1879, Westminster held its first three shows at Gilmore's Garden, which was officially re-named as Madison Square Garden in 1879. The following year, an indoor arena (MSG II) was constructed and re-opened on the site of Garden I at Madison Square (26th Street and Madison Avenue).

In 1925, Madison Square Garden (MSG III) opened as an indoor arena on 8th Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets, hosting the world's greatest sporting events until 1968, when the last event ever staged at Garden III was the Westminster Dog Show. After that show, MSG IV opened at the current Madison Square Garden location (33rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues) atop Pennsylvania Station.

For Westminster in 2013, Pier 92, with about 75,000 square feet of space, will have four rings for competition in the breeds, and potentially can have room for nearly 900 dogs. Next door in the 133,000 square feet of Pier 94, there will be eight rings and benching for as many as 1,300 dogs.

Over the years, Piers 92/94 have hosted New York Fashion Week events; The Armory Show - Modern and its sister event, The Armory Show, featuring historically modern and contemporary art; the Architectural Digest Home Design Show and The Artist Project, featuring design seminars, cooking demonstrations, and international contemporary fine artists; the Pier Antiques Show; the James Blake Foundation charity tennis match Serving for a Cure; and political rallies, antique fairs, gift shows, parties and product launch events.

Westminster history, once again, in the making.

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