Today would have been the 96th birthday of Jack Kirby, one of the most important and influential comic book creators of all time. His legacy is the hundreds of characters he created, as well as exotic locations he rendered -- whether they be the cosmic Viking realm of Asgard that Thor calls home, or the contrasting planets of Apokolips and New Genesis in his Fourth World metaseries for DC Comics.
But when Kirby wasn't creating celestial beings and the surreal worlds that they lived in, he had a knack for being able to put mundane locations from our world into a universe where gods, planet devouring aliens and global dictators walk amongs the every day people. Kirby created several of these locations in the New York City of Marvel Comics.
The first of the homes that Kirby co-created for Marvel in the 1960s was the Baxter Building, a fictional office/high-rise that the Fantastic Four calls home. The Baxter Building can be found by 42nd Street and Madison Avenue in Manhattan. In real life, the building houses a TD Bank, among other things.
Flickr photo by Cully
Originally, the Fantastic Four lived in the top five floors of the high rise. The living quarters and their furnishing showed a clear mid-century aesthetic, which makes sense with the time period. You would also assume that all the furniture would have to be reinforced, so the sofa wouldn't collapse under the weight of the 500 pound rock-man, The Thing, who lived there.
The other half of their living space shows off Kirby's uncanny ability to render unbelievable machinery, as it was a laboratory for Mister Fantastic. The Baxter Building was one of the key locations in the early Marvel Universe.
The fact that the Baxter Building was constantly under attack from super villains and also housed spacecraft and regular rocket launching made the group a nuisance to other building tenants and the building's owner. Eventually the Baxter Building was purchased by the Fantastic Four and modifications were made, including adding playrooms for Mister Fantastic and Invisible Woman's growing family as well as adding a Fantastic Four museum and gift shop on the first floor for their fans. You can see a collection of awesome cutaways, that detail the various floorplans of the Baxter Building, over at arglebargle.
For the Avengers Mansion, Kirby had the task of basing their home/headquarters on Manhattan's Henry Clay Frick House at the request of Stan Lee. Like the Avengers Mansion, the gigantic home covered an entire city block.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Below the (fictional) building is an expansive series of arsenals, training rooms and command centers where the Earth's mightiest heroes convene. And in typical superhero fashion, the building has been destroyed and rebuilt countless times over the years.