Letters to Spider-Man Displayed in New York Museum


Jonathan Buscher

Recently, the City Reliquary Museum in Brooklyn, New York released a temporary exhibit of letters. However, rather than coming to or from a historical figure, they were all addressed to someone arguably more world-famous than nearly any other individual: Spider-Man (or his secret identity, Peter Parker). 

After a set of 1989 Spider-Man comic issues revealed that Peter Parker’s address, shared with his Aunt May, was 20 Ingram Street in Forest Hills, New York, the owners of the house were contacted in numerous ways. From phone calls to letters, the family owning the house received hundreds of different slips of paper from all over the world, all hoping to contact “Peter Parker” or “Spider-Man.”

Coincidentally, the family living at the address also had the last name Parker, as Dave Herman, the founder of the City Reliquary Museum, noted in an interview with WABC-TV that “Our board member Pamela Parker grew up in this household,” along with mentioning that Pamela’s mother, Suzanne Parker thought that the pieces of mail were initially pranks. According to Herman, those who originally wrote the aforementioned 1989 Spider-Man issue claim to have had no idea that the Parkers had lived at 20 Ingram Street since 1974. Yet, Herman stated that he has a sneaking suspicion that the creators actually picked the address out of a phone book in order to keep the illusion of a real-world superhero for children reading the comics. The Parkers only discovered why they were getting the letters after a local journalist revealed the comic to them years after it was initially released.  

No matter the true reason 20 Ingram Street was selected as the official “Spider-Man house,” the appeal of a tangible address to send letters to Spider-Man proved to be strong for many around the globe. Ranging from places as close as Kentucky to as far as India and the Netherlands, children wrote to Spider-Man for a whole variety of reasons. Some ask for Spider-Man’s advice and guidance in becoming their own superhero, while others ask for gear, such as real web-slingers, or a real Spider-Man mask. Occasionally, the letters revealed how much the kids writing them were enveloped in the world of Spider-Man, as, in a segment with NPR, Herman read that one of the letters said, “Dear Spider-Man, from Connor. I’m a big fan of you. Everybody knows your secret. You’re Peter Parker. I want a webslinger and all the Spider-Man things, or else I’ll tell Aunt May.” Given the popularity of Spider-Man, even letters addressed simply as “to Peter Parker” ended up at 20 Ingram Street and according to realtor Gigi Malek “It doesn’t add any value, but it’s a lot of fun.” 

Given the tremendous impact the fictional character of Spider-Man has had in the lives of many, the City Reliquary Museum decided to display these letters, as the organization claimed that anyone in need of a hero could be inspired, just as the children writing letters to their favorite web-slinger were. The exhibit, titled “Dear Spider-Man, Letters to Peter Parker,” is on display at the museum until April 2, 2023.