New York’s Palace Theatre at 1564 Broadway (at West 47th Street) was the biggest vaudeville venue. Performers (often waiting for auditions and calls) could be found on the sidewalk in front of the Palace and the small traffic island called Duffy Square across the street—now the location of the TKTS tickets booth. This small piece of real estate was dubbed “Palace Beach” (or “The Beach") by at least 1931.
The same “Palace Beach” area was also called “Hope Island.”
“Palace Beach” and “Hope Island” have also been called “Panic Beach” and “Panic Island.”
Wikipedia: Palace Theatre (New York City)
Palace Theatre is a Broadway theatre located at 1564 Broadway (at West 47th Street) in midtown Manhattan, New York City. From 1913 through about 1929, the Palace attained legendary status among vaudeville performers as the flagship of the Keith–Albee organization, and the most desired booking in the country.
Vaudeville Lingo (Compiled by Wayne Keyser)
The Beach — Now the location of TKTS in Times Square, “the beach” was the triangle in front of the Palace Theater. Similar gathering places could be found in every major city’s theatrical business district, because the theater buildings also housed numerous booking agencies. The performers who got work were the performers who checked the agencies regularly. So many performers lounged about the area across from the Palace that wags saw them “vacationing” there and dubbed it “the beach,” and if you were stuck on the the beach because you couldn’t get a job, you were “washed up.”
K. Brian Neel’s Vaudeville Terminology
The Beach - The triangle in front of the Palace Theater. Similar gathering places could be found in every major city’s theatrical business district, because the theater buildings also housed numerous booking agencies. The performers who got work were the performers who checked the agencies regularly. Besides offices their suites also contained many small sound-proof rooms, (in each one a piano) where song pluggers (q.v.) demonstrated the latest material to performers, passed out promotional copies complete with orchestrations, and even rehearsed and coached them. So many performers lounged about the area across from the Palace that wags saw them “vacationing” there.
1 August 1931, Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch, “Main Street” by Harry Tucker, pg. 2, col. 3:
Why did Lila Lou got to Niagara Falls without making a stop-over at Palace Beach? (Palace Beach is that section of Nuyork radiating from the Palace Theatre to Buddy Hutchinson’s “Garden.")
9 April 1932, Asbury Park (NJ) Evening Press, “About New York” by William Gaines, pg. 6, col. 3:
NEW YORK, Aug. 9.—Let us stand awhile on “Palace beach”, as the actors call it, and see how many celebrities and near-celebs can be recognized.
The “beach,” you must know, is Palace theater. still the center of faded vaudevil solar system.
15 November 1932, Variety, “A.K. Palace Beachcomber Goes Hamlet, Soliliquizing on Ace Stand’s Finale,” pg. 38, col. 4:
“It was 20 years ago come April, but it seems like yesterday,” said the Old Timer as he turned his face skyward. It was a chilly Saturday morning and “the boys” hadn’t as yet congregated on the Palace Beach. For 20 years “the boys” have been supplying that noted curbstone with hot air heat.
26 March 1941, Variety, pg. 6, col. 3:
Metro’s ‘Big Time” Pic
A Trailer for RKO?
BY BILL HALLIGAN.
Hollywood, March 17.
Palace Beach, N.Y.C.
14 May 1942, Decatur (IL) Review, “Lights of New York” by L. L. Stevenson, pg. 6, col. 4:
THERE IS happiness in the world of vaudeville. Straight men, comics, acrobats, trick bicycle riders, roller skaters and others of the world of variety are going around with smiles. Instead of a place of gloom, “Palace Beach,” the sidewalk in the vicinity of the Palace Theater, is now a bit of brightness.
By John E. DiMeglio
Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green University- Popular Press
The sidewalk outside the Palace was nearly as famous as the theater itself. This stretch of Broadway was dubbed the Palace Beach, usually shortened to Beach. Some also referred to the location as Hope Island. There one could see big names— Jolson, Cantor, Jessel, Rubin, Blue (pick your headliner) — and many small ones. They all spent time on the Beach, swapping stories, showing off their diamonds, or just plain gossiping.