Herbert Jacobs

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Herbert A. Jacobs (April 8, 1903 – May 20, 1987) was a journalist for the Milwaukee Journal and later a professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.


Jacobs was a friend of Frank Lloyd Wright. Jacobs and his wife Katherine commissioned Wright to design a house for them. This house, the Herbert and Katherine Jacobs First House, was notable as the first example of Usonian architecture.

Later, they commissioned Wright to design another house for them, the Herbert and Katherine Jacobs Second House.

Jacobs method for crowd size estimation[edit]

Jacobs worked for the Milwaukee Journal from 1931 until 1962.[1] After retirement, he taught journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

Jacobs was present in Berkeley during the Berkeley riots. It was at this time that he devised a method for measuring crowd size, the Jacobs Method:[2][3]

[Jacobs's] office was in a tower that overlooked the plaza where students frequently gathered to protest the Vietnam War. The plaza was marked with regular grid lines, which allowed Jacobs to see how many grid squares were filled with students and how many students on average packed into each grid. After gathering data on numerous demonstrations, Jacobs came up with some rules of thumb that still are used today by those serious about crowd estimation. A loose crowd, one where each person is an arm's length from the body of his or her nearest neighbors, needs 10 square feet[note 1] per person. A more tightly packed crowd fills 4.5 square feet[note 2] per person. A truly scary mob of mosh-pit density would get about 2.5 square feet[note 3] per person.


Herbet Jacobs died of cancer on May 20, 1987.[1]

Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ 10 sq. ft = 0.929 m2
  2. ^ 4.5 sq. ft = 0.418 m2
  3. ^ 2.5 sq. ft = 0.232 m2


  1. ^ a b Albert Scardino. Herbert Jacobs, 30's Reporter Who Reshaped Architecture. New York Times Obituary, May 27, 1987.
  2. ^ "Reporting: The Perils of Crowd Counting". TIME. 7 April 1967. Archived from the original on October 14, 2008. Retrieved 29 August 2010.
  3. ^ Steve Doig. How big will inaugural crowd be? Do the math When people gather in vast numbers, 'official' estimates often run wild. NBC News, January 15, 2009.