A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from April 20, 2015
Ulcer Gulch (Madison Avenue)

Madison Avenue (home to many advertising agencies) was popularly called “Ulcer Gulch” in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. “Ulcer Gulch” was cited in 1942 as the nickname for the War Department’s cafeteria in Washington, DC. In 1943, New York (NY) Post saloon editor Earl Wilson called the booze beat along Third Avenue in Manhattan as the “Ulcer Gulch.” Wilson credited “one of my confreres” with coining the nickname.

“Flack division of Benton & Bowles this week experienced the kind of thing that makes Madison Avenue known as ulcer gulch” was cited in print in 1947. “He’s done several pieces on the frantic folkways of the advertising agencies which glut New York’s Madison Avenue (’Ulcer Gulch’ to the trade)” was cited in 1949. Working in advertising might still give people ulcers, but the term is historical today.


Brooklyn Newsstand
31 January 1942, Brooklyn (NY) Eagle, “Ray Tucker’s Letter from Washington,” pg. 6, co. 6:
The War Department is the most overcrowded structure at the capital. It cannot provide sufficient facilities for feeding the thousands of employes for their half-hour noon period. Distracted officers, privates and clerical workers stand in line almost all that time just to grab a sandwich and a soft drink. Girl clerks refer to the restaurant as “ulcer gulch.”

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
3 February 1943, New York (NY) Post, “It Happened Last Night” by Earl Wilson, pg. 37, col. 1:
It just occurred to me that if lady bartenders come to my favorite street (Ulcer Gulch), the work of some of our leading pub crawlers will be made twice as arduous.

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
22 May 1943, New York (NY) Post, “Night Life” by Earl Wilson (Saloon Editor), pg. 15, col. 1:
Ulcer Gulch, as one of my confreres once nicknamed the Booze Beat, has a colossal week ahead, with six major nigh club opening events scheduled.

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
18 September 1943, New York (NY) Post, “Singers and Bands Dominate Openings” by Earl Wilson (Saloon Editor), pg. 17, col. 2:
Ulcer Gulch jumps again this coming week and if you like bands and singers, you can have a wonderful time reeling around to the openings.

Google Books
21 June 1947, The Billboard, pg. 18, col. 3:
Aspirin Avenue
NEW YORK, June 14.—Flack division of Benton & Bowles this week experienced the kind of thing that makes Madison Avenue known as ulcer gulch.

Google Books
Collier’s
Volume 123
1949
Pg. 10:
He’s done several pieces on the frantic folkways of the advertising agencies which glut New York’s Madison Avenue ("Ulcer Gulch” to the trade) .

New York (NY) Times
13 July 1952, New York (NY) Times, “Advertising and Marketing News” by John Stuart, pg. F9:
The denizens of “Ulcer Gulch,” as the street is irreverently known, found Mr. Orchard without ulcers.

Google Books
The Pattern of Management
By Lyndall Fownes Urwick
Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press
1956
Pg. 12:
“Why do they now call it ulcer-gulch instead of the old front-office?” ā€” as an article in a popular journal asked.

Google News Archive
5 November 1959, Bend (OR) Bulletin, “Washington Merry-Go-Round” by Jack Anderson, pg. 10, col. 1:
WASHINGTON.—If congressional probers ever look beyond the rigged television shows into the commercial that pay for them, it will cause an upheaval on Madison Avenue.

There among the chrome steel skyscrapers of New York City’s heartland, along a one-mile stretch known informally as advertising alley or ulcer gulch, are found the flannel-suited men who control what the public sees on television.

Google News Archive
15 December 1962, Schenectady (NY) Gazette,"Advertising Men Die Decade Sooner,” pg. 18, col. 8:
NEW YORK—Maybe “Ulcer Gulch” is an appropriate description of Madison avenue. Advertising men, a study shows, die at an average age of 57.9 years—10 years earlier than the national average for men.

Google Books
The Permissible Lie;
The Inside Truth about Advertising

By Samm Sinclair Baker
Cleveland, OH: World Pub. Co.
1968
Pg. 8:
That is why Madison Avenue is known as Ulcer Gulch.

campaign (UK)
Close-Up: Live issue - The real ‘Mad Men’ of 1960s Madison Avenue
campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 03 August 2007 12:00AM
(...)
Admen in the 60s were certainly paid enough to be smartly dressed. They also worked and played very hard, hence their susceptibility to ill health and heart disease - not for nothing was the avenue nicknamed “ulcer gulch” in 60s adland. Ad executives of the day combatted the mountainous stress with alcohol, giving rise to the near-mythical three-martini lunch.

Twitter
Charlotte Lipman
ā€@calipman91
In 1959 average life expectancy of an ad man was 59 - Madison ave known as “Ulcer Gulch” #promaxbdaus
12:46 PM - 19 Jun 2013

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityStreets • Monday, April 20, 2015 • Permalink