Fictional Tourism: The Marvel Universe NYC
With Spider-Man Week on the horizon I thought I’d put together a guide to some of the other great Marvel Comics locations that a fictional tourist within the Marvel universe might want to check out.
What the hell am I talking about? One of the great things about Marvel Comics is that they use established places, mostly within New York City, to tell their stories. DC Comics (home of Superman and Batman) use fictitious cities as homes for their heroes. Though you could argue that Metropolis and Gotham City (maps at the links) are both based on New York City, (both cities have island portions for instance) Marvel goes one step further and uses actual locations for their stories. Spider-Man has had many fights atop the Roosevelt Island Tram, and suffered one of his greatest losses on the Brooklyn Bridge. His Aunt May raised him in Forest Hills, Queens. Daredevil patrols and protects Hell’s Kitchen. The X-Men live in Westchester, etc. etc.
This map of Manhattan was included a few years back in their “Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe” and tells us many things about Marvel’s NYC environs, so I decided to take my camera out for a spin and to see some of the locations of the Marvel Universe. (By the way, you can see a MUCH larger version of that map here.)
The Baxter Building
First up was the Baxter Building, home of the Fantastic Four. The map is a bit vague, but research tells us that it is located at 42nd and Madison, very close to Grand Central Station. The Baxter Building originally devoted only it’s top five floors to the FF, but after being destroyed multiple times, and launched into space, (twice) the FF bought the whole building to prevent anyone else living there from being endangered. The Baxter Building was destroyed in the mid 80’s and replaced by Four Freedoms Plaza, also subsequently destroyed and replaced by the New Baxter Building. The Baxter Building features a launchpad for several space and air vehicles, a portal to the Negative Zone, and a robotic receptionist named Roberta who directed visitors to the lobby area.
The map indicates the West side of Madison, but with no cross street on the map I wasn’t sure which building it was meant to be, so I chose the tallest. Inset into the photo is an image from the comics of what the “real” Baxter Building looks like.
The Daily Bugle
Around the corner is the Daily Bugle, Spider-Man’s nemesis, and sometimes employer. The Daily Bugle is the Marvel Universe equivalent of the Post, and tabloid newspaper that often prints sensationalist headlines. J. Jonah Jameson, the publisher, does not like masked super-heroes in general, and Spider-Man in particular and often publishes derogatory stories about them. It has often been the site of battles both between Spider-Man and his enemies, and of heroes and villains seeking revenge on Jameson for something he published about them. In the movies the Flat Iron Building stood in for the Bugle’s offices, but in the comic they are located at the corner of 39th and 2nd. The Marvel map indicated the East side of 39th, where I found two high-rise apartment towers.
Research on the next two locations yielded specific addresses rather than just cross streets. First up was Avengers Mansion located at 890 Fifth Ave. Avengers Mansion has been home to the hundreds of superheroes who have formed the active roster of the Avengers over the years including Iron Man, Captain America, She-Hulk, Thor and many others. It includes a launch pad for the Avenger’s signature transport The Quinjet, and a private subway shuttle to their Hydrobase, (an artificial island base) located in the East River. Avengers Mansion currently is an empty husk after it was destroyed during the “Avengers Disassembled” event.
Avengers Mansion has always been depicted as being inside Central Park, but the address of 890 is actually on the East side of 5th and would fall into the block occupied by the Frick. Since the destruction of the Mansion the Avengers have been based out of Stark Tower, but the map predates that event, and no specific address for Stark Tower seems to be available.
Dr. Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum
Located at 177 Bleecker Dr. Strange‘s home, most often referred to as the Sanctum Sanctorum, is probably one of the most unusual buildings found in Greenwich Village. As the foremost practitioner of magic in the Marvel Universe Strange keeps a large collection of magical items here, not to mention portals to other dimensions, and demonic minions who protect his home. In the past it has been home to the super-group The Defenders, and it is currently home to a group calling themselves the “New Avengers.”
The building located at 177 Bleecker is in actuality in the middle of the block, where Strange’s home is located at the corner of Bleecker and the fictitious Fenno Place. It is also usually depicted as being on the South side of Bleecker, though in reality 177 is a North side address. Since Avengers Mansion was on the wrong side of the street as well, maybe the numbering system is reversed in the Marvel Universe?
The Marvel Map also includes the interesting information that Captain America’s apartment was in Boerum Hill, Spider-Man’s apartment was in Chelsea, and his girlfriend Mary Jane lived on the Upper West. Marvel’s fictional Yancy Street, childhood home of Fantastic Four member The Thing , is in the Lower East, and the equally fictional Empire State University, where Spider-Man attended college, was roughly in the same neighborhood as NYU.
What other fictional NYC locations are out there, and worth visiting?