This is the story of the house where Spider-Man grew up, and the family named Parker that lives there in real life.
In the comics and the films, Peter Parker grew up in the neighborhood of Forest Hills in the borough of Queens in New York City. This has been rather meaningful for me, since I was a studious brown-haired kid living in that area, so I liked knowing that there were several similarities between my favorite comic book character and me. It gave a sense that in the comics these characters were walking down the same streets I did, took the same Subway to go to Manhattan, etc.
It took decades for Marvel to reveal the actual location of the House. AMAZING FANTASY #15 didn’t specify where exactly Peter Parker lived, although he did go to Midtown High (later established as being somewhere in Queens rather than Midtown Manhattan) and had to live near a major media market, given his ability to make multiple TV appearances as Spider-Man without arousing the suspicions of his aunt and uncle. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1 established that Peter lived in the same city as the Fantastic Four. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #7 was the first reference to Forest Hills, as Spider-Man tries to sneak out of his house without getting the attention of his neighbors.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #316-317 by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane would provide a concrete address. In that story, Venom escapes from prison just as Peter and Mary Jane move back in with Aunt May. Venom gets a hold of their change of address form, which provides a physical location for Aunt May’s house: 20 Ingram Street. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700 by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos would include a two page spread of the street.
There is actually a 20 Ingram Street in Forest Hills, Queens. The stranger thing is that the family that lives there is actually named Parker.
The Tribune placed a phone call to the Ingram Street home and asked for Mr. Parker.
A woman on the other end said her husband Andrew was not in at the time.
Approaching deadline and desperately seeking information on the reality of Spider-Man, this reporter questioned one Mrs. Parker.
“Um, I know this is going to sound a little crazy,” we asked, “but by any chance do you know that you share a name and an address with Spider-Man?”
There were a few seconds of a lingering, uncomfortable silence on the phone before Parker said, “I knew we shared the same name, but I had no idea we shared the same address.”
Mrs. Parker is actually Susanne Parker, an artist who works on surreal digital portraits.
She said there have been some bizarre occurrences since her and her husband moved into their home in 1974.
For a period of time she claims she was receiving Discover Cards in the name of none other than Peter Parker.
That, along with catalogs of Star Trek memorabilia and “other things that would appeal to a 14-year-old boy.”
She said she figured that it was just a bunch of kids playing a prank because of her last name – she said she didn’t know the extent of the similarities until the Tribune told her.
“Boy, that’s really bizarre,” said Parker. “But the only way it would weird me out is if I received more bulk mail addressed to Peter Parker or phone calls asking for Spider-Man. It’s just a very odd coincidence.”
Coincidence or not, Parker insisted that she has no super powers and Spider-Man doesn’t live in her home.
“Well, now that this is being made public I just want people to know one thing,” said Parker. “We are normal people, and don’t climb walls or anything like that. I am, however, fond of Louise Nevelson’s spider sculptures.”
There is one more weird detail.
At 19 Ingram St., across the street from Parker, lives the Osborn family.
That’s right – a family with the same name of Spider-Man’s greatest nemesis lives across the street from the Parkers — same spelling and all.
Despite the coincidences, Parker said she doesn’t believe any of the mailing pranks were played by the Osborns.
Very much unlike the comics, the Parkers and Osborns “get along just fine.”
”We’ve created two new celebrities,” said Stan Lee, who created Spider-Man 40 years ago with Steve Ditko. Reached by phone at his Los Angeles office yesterday, Mr. Lee, 79, said that when Spider-Man was created in 1962, he made Peter Parker a Forest Hills resident, but, ”I never pinpointed his address.”
Mr. Lee was no longer writing the comic book in 1989, ”So someone else must have created that address,” he said, adding, ”Spidey would have gotten a kick out of the coincidence, but Peter Parker, he would have loathed all this publicity revealing where he lives.”
Kilgannon noted that there is a difference between the two houses. The real one is nicer than the one in the comics, located in the Forest Hills Gardens section of the neighborhood. That’s a private area modeled on the gardens communities of England, designed by the architect Grosvenor Atterbury.
Their home is hardly as plain as Aunt May’s in the comic book, nor as modest as the two-story home shown in the film. It is a stone Edwardian-style house built in 1916 in the English garden style. Ivy is the only thing climbing these walls.
The quiet, leafy block is lined with fine Tudor houses that have slate roofs steep enough to challenge even Spider-Man.
According to another New York Times piece, Stan Lee lived in the boroughs of Bronx and Manhattan in New York City, as well as the suburbs of Long Island, but never Queens. When he came up with Spider-Man, he was living in the hamlet of Hewlett Harbor.
We wanted a bigger house, so we moved nearby. The new house had a huge porch with beautiful hedges all around it. I used to type my stories on the patio standing up. During my years there I helped create Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the Incredible Hulk, among others. All our neighbors were wealthy businesspeople, and I was a guy writing comics. No one quite understood us.
Incidentally, Steve Ditko grew up in Pennsylvania.
Next time you’re in New York City, you can take a walk around Spider-Man’s neighborhood, and go to the house where he sorta grew up. It may be a bit different in real life than in the comics, but it is home to the Parkers.
Thomas Mets is an Education Masters student in New York City. He is also one of the moderators of the Spider-Man forum at Comic Book Resources. He grew up near Forest Hills Queens—technically in the adjoining neighborhood of Glendale although he would use the Forest Hills Subway station to go to Manhattan—and has been a fan of Spider-Man since coming across the character in the comic strip.