"Jacobs Beach” (or “Jacobs’ Beach") was named after Mike Jacobs (1880-1953), New York City’s leading boxing promoter from the mid-1930s until he retired in 1946. Jacobs had an office at 225 West 49th Street (between Broadway and Eighth Avenue) and people would go to the “beach” (the sidewalk in front of the building) to arrange a fight or to get fight tickets. The term “Jacobs Beach” has been cited in print since at least April 2, 1936, when sportswriter Eddie Brietz credited the term to fellow sportswriter Frankie Graham of the New York (NY) Sun. However, on May 18, 1936, Brietz wrote: “Sid Mercer, the American‘s crack sports writer, is the guy who christened W. 49th street ‘Jacobs Beach.’” Sid Mercer (1881-1945) was an authority on both boxing and baseball.
The name “Jacobs Beach” is of historical interest today. “Jacobs Beach” has been the title of a book, Jacobs Beach: the Mob, the fights, the fifties (2010) by Kevin Mitchell.
Wikipedia: Mike Jacobs (boxing)
Michael Strauss Jacobs (March 17, 1880 – January 1953) was a boxing promoter, arguably the most powerful in the sport from the mid-1930’s until his effective retirement in 1946. He was posthumously elected to the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1982, and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.
Early life and career
Born in New York City in 1880, Jacobs came from a poor family and went to work as a boy, selling newspapers and candy on Coney Island excursion boats. Noticing that ticket purchases for the boats were often confusing to prospective passengers, Jacobs began scalping boat tickets. He then bought concession rights on all the boats docked at the Battery, sold train tickets to recent immigrants, and eventually ran his own ferryboats.
Jacobs then became a ticket scalper in New York, buying and selling theater, opera, or sports events tickets. He began promoting events himself, including charity balls, bike races, and circuses.
Jacobs met famous boxing promoter Tex Rickard in 1906 at the Joe Gans-Battling Nelson bout in Goldfield, Nevada, and eventually became Rickard’s “money man” by the time of the 1919 Jack Dempsey-Jess Willard bout.
After Rickard’s death in 1929, Jacobs then became a promoter of events at the Hippodrome in New York City’s Sixth Avenue, and afterward, a promoter for Madison Square Garden – then the dominant New York City-area boxing promotion franchise – staging 320 shows there from 1937 to 1949.
National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
1969 J. G. Taylor Spink Award Winner Sid Mercer
Born in Champaign County, Illinois, in 1881, James Sidney Mercer’s first job at a newspaper was as a printer’s devil (apprentice) with the St. Louis Republic. He later wrote for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before hiring on with the St. Louis Browns as their road secretary in 1906. The following year Mercer’s love for writing brought him to the staff of the New York Evening Globe. He later wrote for the New York Evening Journal, where, through syndication, his reputation gained nation-wide fame. He finally landed with Hearst’s American (later Journal-American) where he stayed until his death in June of 1945.
A charter member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, Mercer covered New York baseball with an easy, informative writing style. Ford Frick recalled: “Sid Mercer was a dedicated man. His contributions went far beyond writing. He was at one and the same time critic and defender.”
A recognized authority on both boxing and baseball, Mercer was appointed to the Hall of Fame Committee on Baseball Veterans less than a year before his passing.
2 April 1936, Beatrice (NE) Daily Sun, “Sports Roundup” by Eddie Brietz, pg. 6, col. 5:
New York, April 2.—(...) The Garden’s announcement that it has Tony Canzoneri signed for his next title defense has Mike Jacobs wondering how he’s going to bag the Ambers bout....But all along W. 49th street—called Jacobs’ Beach by Frankie Graham in the Sun—they’re betting even money Michael does it.
Google News Archive
18 May 1936, Sarasota (FL) Herald, “Sports Roundup” by Eddie Brietz, pg. 5, cols. 5-6:
Sid Mercer, the American’s crack sports writer, is the guy who christened W. 49th street “Jacobs Beach.”
Google News Archive
19 May 1936, Windsor (Ontario) Daily Star, pg. 5, col. 7:
Louis vs. Braddock
Along “Jacobs Beach,” as Manhattan’s 49th street has become known to the fistic sun-dodgers, most arguments are not concerned with what Louis will do to Schmeling but whether the Bomber will fight Braddock for the title.
25 January 1953, New York (NY) Times, pg. 84:
MIKE JACOBS DIES
OF HEART ATTACK
Former Newsboy, 72, Served
as U.S. Boxing Ruler 9 Years
-- Held Rights to Joe Louis
ASSOCIATE OF TEX RICKARD
Promoter of 4 Million-Dollar
Gates Wrested Ring Control
From Madison Sq. Garden
MIAMI BEACH, Fla., Jan. 24 (AP)—Mike Jacobs, a fabulous figure in the boxing world until his retirement three and a half years ago, died of a heart attack early this morning in Mount Sinai Hospital. he was 72 years old.
His activities brought to the stretch of Forty-ninth Street between Eighth Avenue and Broadway designation as Jacobs’ Beach. Here the fight mob idled, thefellow down on his luck waiting for Mike, to request a loan or a fight ticket.
New York (NY) Times
SCOUTING; On Sick Leave
By Michael Katz
Published: June 24, 1983
Jimmy White, a fight manager now in his 70’s who was a regular around Madison Square Garden and St. Nicholas Arena a couple of decades ago, lives down yonder in New Orleans, where he has come up with a fair junior welterweight named Billy Parks.
After securing the match, White decided to visit his old haunts at Seventh Avenue and 49th Street, what was called ‘’Jacobs Beach’’ in the days when Mike Jacobs ran boxing at the old Garden.
New York (NY) Times
October 9, 2005
The Beach of Jowly Men
By DAVID MARGOLICK
PLACES, like people, die twice: first when they expire, then when those remembering them do. So it is with Jacobs Beach, once one of the most colorful swatches of Midtown and now vanished into the sands of time, which were pretty much the only sands it ever really knew.
Though now dying its second death, Jacobs Beach was in its heyday as distinct a part of town, and as committed to its trade, as the diamond center or the garment district. Sports fans knew where it was, as well as the gruff, profane and canny former ticket scalper for whom it was named. They knew, too, what it was all about: boxing. When boxing was big business, New York was its capital, Jacobs Beach its capitol and Mike Jacobs its undisputed king.
Viewed most expansively, Jacobs Beach, a k a Bashed Beak Boulevard, a k a Cauliflower Canyon, measured just one city block, the stretch of West 49th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue. At its western edge was boxing’s mecca, Madison Square Garden; at the other, at least for a time, was Jack Dempsey’s restaurant. In actuality, the Beach amounted to little more than the sidewalk in front of Jacobs’s ticket office at 225 West 49th Street, spilling across the street to the lobby and offices of the Forrest Hotel. For 20 years or so, managers and trainers, promoters and pugs, bookies and newsmen congregated there. When they parted company at other nearby haunts, like Stillman’s Gym or Lindy’s restaurant, they didn’t say goodbye. They said, “See you at the Beach.”
Wall Street Journal
DECEMBER 10, 2010
Gangs of Madison Square Garden
The mobsters who ran boxing during its golden age knew the sport but were rarely in the boxers’ corner
By JOHN REED
Kevin Mitchell, the chief sports writer for the London Observer, unravels the helix of the mafia and the fight game in “Jacobs Beach,” his second book on the sweet science. ("Jacobs Beach” was a nickname for the corner of Broadway and Eighth Ave. in Manhattan, where fight fans would crowd for tickets at the offices of promoter Mike Jacobs.)
Noel DeKing wrote:
Reviewer Reed mistakenly places ‘Jacobs Beach’ at the corner of Broadway and Eighth Avenue...That’s wrong since both are North-South avenues, there is no corner.."Jacobs Beach measured just one city block, the stretch of West 49th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue. At its western edge was boxing’s mecca, Madison Square Garden; at the other, at least for a time, was Jack Dempsey’s restaurant. In actuality, the Beach amounted to little more than the sidewalk in front of Jacobs’s ticket office at 225 West 49th Street, spilling across the street to the lobby and offices of the Forrest Hotel. For 20 years or so, managers and trainers, promoters and pugs, bookies and newsmen congregated there.” (NYTimes, Oct 9, 2005)
OCLC WorldCat record
Jacobs Beach: the Mob, the fights, the fifties
Author: Kevin Mitchell
Publisher: New York : Pegasus Books : Distributed by W.W. Norton & Co., 2010.
Edition/Format: Book : English : 1st Pegasus Books cloth ed
New York City • Streets • (0) Comments • Sunday, December 19, 2010 • Permalink