big screen décor: spidey's dingy apartment


After my first, glam movie kitchen post, Kristi commented on the “massive lofts in New York that no normal person can afford” typical in films. Too true! So, this week, we take on Spider-man’s fifth-floor walk-up. It’s classic Manhattan pre-war dingy. I’d eyeball it at 150 sf. The pay phone is in the hall. The studio walls aren’t so much painted, as slathered with various coats of paint – some may even have been white once! The door, with its three locks, sticks. There are interesting moldings and sconces that give the room “character,” but the little white sink near the hot-plate hangs off the wall precariously, giving the impression that you’d bang your head on the shelving when brushing your teeth. But, then, there it is, that production designer touch: French windows opening on to a billion-dollar view of the Empire State Building. What a nightlight! Still, it reminded me of my first NYC sublet – tub in kitchen and toilet outside and down the hall. I’m curious: tell me about your first apartments – and what you did to spruce them up? — Thelma Adams

Thelma Adams is the film critic for Us Weekly, and writes historical fiction. She lives in upstate NY and not only has a toilet inside the house, but three of them.

From our partners

My first apartment actually wasn’t too bad. It was a great space, but the living room had one wall that was basically all windows, and for some reason every drill bit we used to try and hang up curtain rods would break off. Eventually we were left with lots of holes and too much sunlight. Well, we adjusted to the light and the windows ended up being a great source of entertainment. There was a guy who lived in the building across from us who liked to cook naked. That was just an accident waiting to happen.

Angela M.

My first place was much nicer than Peter Parker’s. It was 300 square feet on Mulberry street. It was higher than it was wide, had no natural light and a faux fireplace that glowed and crackled. And I loved every little rent-controlled inch!


Isn’t his apartment supposed to be in Astoria? The official premiere of Spiderman 3 was in Astoria on Monday, with tons of celebs, apparently because the location was supposed to be here. Certainly in LIC you could have a tiny apartment looking out on the Manhattan skyline…


My impression, Harlan, is that Peter Parker grew up in Astoria with his Aunt May, who stops by and sniffs politely at his new bachelor digs, but that this teeny apartment is in Manhattan. If it had been in Astoria, where I had my first job in NYC at the American Museum of the Moving Image, he would have had a bigger spread.


Peter Parker is from Forest Hills but his apartment is in Manhattan. It’s all in the comics.

Angela M.

I heard that he lives in Alphabet City?

Ha! This is actually pretty close to my current apartment! I mean, I have a proper bathroom with random pipes capped off and a kitchen that doesn’t have room for a fridge, but it somehow reminds me of my apartment. Strange.


My first apt was on York avenue in a 3 floor walkup. The walls were coated in 3 layers of dingy paint over extremely sharp stucco. If you stumbled in drunk one night it was like hitting the coral reef at pipeline. There was a chinese restaurant downstairs who used the courtyard to cook food. My clothing had a permanent stench of chop suey. The gas company called me once accusing me of tampering with the gas meter. It turns out I only used the stove to light cigarettes and it didn’t register on the meter!

To make the place more livable, we rented floor sanders and refinished the floors. We also paid a few hundred dollars to have closets added to the second “room”. It was really a converted 1 bedroom. I reccomend always painting a small apt before moving in. It makes it feel so much nicer when you finally do move in and you could never do it with all of your stuff in there.


Yes, if they had Peter paint his apartment white, with those moldings and built-ins, it would be oh so cute!


The facade of Peter Parker’s building is actually a building on Chrystie between Stanton and Rivington (a couple doors down from The Box). Obviously, the view of the ESB doesn’t match, but take a look when you’re in the hood next time.

reminds me of the apartment Michelle Pfieffer moves into in “Married to the Mob.” only worse.


fast moving week « {nesting notes}

[…] of new york, so it all worked out for both of us. shelterrific mentioned the peter parker’s apartment earlier this week, so i paid extra attention to all those details. details like the lamps by his […]

My first apartment in Manhattan was very much like this. It was on York Avenue on the Upper East Side, with the same kind of molding, and we had it painted white. It was sort of like a railroad apartment, in that it was just very long and you had to go through the kitchen, then the “dining room” to get to the “living room.” The dining and living area was about six feet wide — that’s how narrow the space was.

We also had a “second bedroom,” even though it was a one-bedroom apartment. The bathroom was so tiny, you could sit on the toilet and wash your hands in the sink at the same time.

My first apartment in Queens was much bigger, had a moroccan theme, and always smelled like Indian food — because it was in Jackson Heights. And it had a gorgeous view of the Empire State building. As an added bonus, my room was fuschia.

dr. strange.

hmmm… i heard peter parker isn’t a real person… Dork!