During a 24-hour period, up to 30,000 people enter and leave the complex. This includes not only visitors, but personnel, housekeeping, merchandisers, labourers, stage hands, electricians, performers, VIPs and media.
“We have over 30 tractor trailers here for certain concerts. The minute the show is over, they start breaking down the stage, and by morning we might have an ice rink set up. During this time, you also have routine daily and nightly deliveries going on. If the elevators aren’t functioning, you’re looking at a huge traffic problem,” says Service Engineer Steven Culen.
He and his crew are responsible for 51 escalators, 17 lifts, a stage lift, and 12 handicap lifts.
“Most call-outs affect large crowds, so having good communications with Garden security is imperative. They constantly observe the crowd flow and make adjustments so I can safely and efficiently correct the issue. Staying cool, calm and collected seems to work,” says Culen.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, notes Culen, who tolerates no corner-cutting when units are serviced.
“As they say: ‘If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, you must have time to do it twice’. We’re always looking to clean, adjust, tighten, and lubricate as needed. The Garden would rather we spend the time doing it properly than to have repeated disruptions.”
With his enviable ringside seat on big-name performers, Culen’s workdays are full of surprises – and surprising challenges.
“Many interesting people perform here, and you never know what you’re walking into. Recently during an NBA All-Star Game, a VIP had her high heel caught in an escalator step thread – I had no idea they can make a heel so thin! She wasn’t injured, the unit stopped properly, and I was able to extract the shoe unharmed. The couple was thrilled.”