To Spider-Man, With Love

A new exhibition features letters children sent to the superhero’s address in Queens, where a real-life Parker family lived for decades

Spider-Man and Jorge
A little boy (Jorge Vega) who looks up to Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) in the 2014 movie The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Michael Stewart via Getty Images

When he wasn’t swinging around New York City and battling his nemeses as Spider-Man, Peter Parker retreated to the two-story boarding house he shared with his Aunt May in Queens—more precisely, a house located at 20 Ingram Street, Forest Hills, NY 11375.

That’s according to the 317th issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, released by Marvel Comics in July 1989. In that issue, the villain Venom shows up at the house after finding the change-of-address form Parker had left in his jacket while changing into his Spider-Man suit, per Artnet’s Min Chen.

In the comic, the home was the site of a fictional battle between Spider-Man and Venom. But the address also corresponds to an actual house in Queens. And, coincidentally, from 1974 to 2017, a real family with the last name of Parker inhabited it: Andrew and Suzanne Parker, plus their two daughters.

For decades, the real-life Parkers received letter after letter from Spider-Man superfans around the world who’d jotted down the superhero’s address from the comic. And, despite the fact that the letters clogged their mailbox for years, the Parkers held onto them. Now, the collection is on display as part of an exhibition called “Dear Spiderman” at City Reliquary in Brooklyn.

For their part, the real-life Parkers had no idea of their home’s connection to the comic until reporters explained the significance after the release of Sam Raimi’s 2002 film Spider-Man.

“[The letters] would come randomly in our childhood,” says 41-year-old Pamela Parker, one of the Parker daughters who lived at the home and now a board member at City Reliquary, to Hell Gate’s Darryn King. “We weren’t big Spider-Man fans—I was more of an Archie Comics girl—so we didn’t understand the connection. We just thought it was a prank by one of our friends who thought it was funny that our last name was Parker.”

Children wrote most of the letters to Spider-Man, often with sweet messages of admiration. “Hi Spiderman, my name is Jax. I think your [sic] really cool. I want to see you,” wrote one adoring fan.

Another youngster named Sammy (perhaps with help from an adult, based on the penmanship) wrote: “Dear Spiderman, I’m Sammy, I am 4 years old and I am a big boy like you. You are doing great saving people, you don’t die when you do it. I hope you are having a good time. I love you! P.S. I am sending your picture.”

Though some fans stopped in front of the house to take photos, very few actually knocked on the front door, per Hell Gate. The Parkers considered writing back to a few of the letters, but they ultimately deemed it best not to respond.

Stan Lee, Spider-Man’s late creator, said he was no longer writing the comic himself by 1989 and suggested that another writer must have come up with the specific address, reported Corey Kilgannon for the New York Times in 2002. Until then, Lee had only referred to Spider-Man living in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens.

“Spidey would have gotten a kick out of the coincidence,” Lee told the Times, “but Peter Parker, he would have loathed all this publicity revealing where he lives.”

The Parker family moved out of the home about five years ago, and they’re not sure who—if anyone—lives there now. According to a real estate listing, the four-bedroom house is currently for sale for $2.1 million, but it makes no mention of the connection to the superhero.

Last year, a group tried to erect a statue to Spider-Man in Forest Hills, but the project ultimately never got off the ground.

In light of the new exhibition, Hell Gate reached out to Clay Langston, who wrote one of the letters on display when he was 9. “I do remember writing him fan mail, drawing costumes and sending them to him,” Langston, now a student at the University of Tennessee, tells the publication. “He helped me cope through the hard times as a kid.”

“Dear Spiderman” is on view now at City Reliquary in New York.

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