The original Baxter Building was the Fantastic Four’s first headquarters. It was a 35-story building located at 42nd Street and Madison Avenue in Manhattan, just a few blocks from the United Nations building and, later, the public headquarters of SHIELD. While the popular belief is that the Baxter Building was built and entirely occupied by the Fantastic Four, in fact they were originally only tenants who rented the top five floors. The building was originally constructed in 1949 by the Leland Baxter Paper Company, intended as a new base for the All-Winners Squad. The building's steel frame construction utilized the first application of "K bracing" in the world and is one of the strongest structures of its kind. Originally designed to accommodate pulp recycling machinery to serve the mid-Manhattan area, each floor was given a ceiling height of 24 feet.
When the Fantastic Four were first considering moving to New York City, Reed found the Baxter Building’s empty top five floors perfect for their needs. He bought that section of the building outright, though the Fantastic Four continued to pay monthly service fees. When the they were in a tight financial situation a year later, Reed sold the Fantastic Four’s floors back to the Baxter Paper Company. As tenants, the Fantastic Four had many problems with Mr. Collins, the building manager. Whereas Mr. Collins had originally been delighted that a real superhero team was moving into his building, he soon began to see the problems in such a situation. When Doctor Doom lifted the entire building into deep space, relations cooled between the manager and his tenants. Other tenants worried that their offices might become battlegrounds and, as their leases ended, many of the building’s original tenants did not renew. Nor did new tenants appear to fill the vacancies. In desperation, Mr. Collins offered all tenants ironclad, 99-year leases with significant discounts in their rents.
Still, problems continued. Occasionally either the Thing or a foe would be driven downward through the building, tearing a shaft through floor after floor. Battles occurred on the outer walls of the building. Explosions were a common occurrence. No insurance company would write a policy on any organization maintaining offices in the Baxter Building.
Collins also discovered that losing the Fantastic Four as tenants would not solve his problems. During a period when the Fantastic Four had split up and vacated their headquarters, Collins discovered that no one would rent the their former headquarters. There was too great a fear that supervillains would attack those floors regardless of who now lived there.
Then one day Terrax the Tamer disintegrated everything above the 32nd floor. Collins was fed up. He stormed into the remains of the headquarters and announced he was evicting the Fantastic Four. Reed suddenly exercised a lease option and bought the entire building outright. That was the last that was seen of Collins. As landlords, the Fantastic Four tried to be considerate of their tenants. They wished most of the tenants would voluntarily leave, but they realized they were required to honor Collins’ special leases. The final act in the Baxter Building’s history came when Kristoff Vernard, Doctor Doom's adopted son, sent the entire building once again into orbit, this time blowing it up.
Fortunately, no one was in the building except for the Fantastic Four. Still, when the Fantastic Four returned to the empty foundation, they found angry tenants demanding action. Reed announced that he would establish an insurance pool to cover the tenants’ losses and to help them find new offices. Then he set about designing a new headquarters to be erected on the same site.
- The Lobby
- The ground floor contained Abe Shoenstein’s snack shop, an optometrist’s shop, a visitors’ center, the elevator bank, and the freight loading dock. The visitors’ center was as close as most people could get to the Fantastic Four; a multimedia show on the Fantastic Four’s history was shown hourly from 9 to 4. The floor directory listed building tenants such as Pierre Picolino (a famous abstract sculptor), the Ladies’ Canasta and Mah Jonng Society, and Fantastic Four Inc.
- Three elevators serviced floors floors 1 through 30. The fourth elevator was marked by the Fantastic Four’s insignia. This was the express elevator to floors 31 through 35, the Fantastic Four’s headquarters. The elevator could only be summoned by a solenoid activator such as were imbedded in the Fantastic Four’s belt buckles. Normally this elevator stayed on these floors and only descended to street level when summoned. On the way up, hidden scanners identified the passengers and checked them for hidden weapons or devices. If questionable material was found, the elevator would stop in midshaft until the Fantastic Four was prepared to deal with the intruder. All elevators doubled as freight elevators.
- 30th Floor
- If a visitor chose to take one of the regular elevators, he was taken to the 30th floor. The bulk of the floor was occupied by the building’s mechanical systems (plumbing, ventilation, and elevator winches). Acoustic insulation kept the noise from affecting the Fantastic Four’s reception area. This floor also acted as a buffer zone to absorb damage from battles in the upper floors. It also contained the magnetic repulsion system. This system was designed to lift the upper floors away from the rest of the Baxter Building; the theory being that this way the rest of the building could have been protected from a particularly damaging battle. The system was designed as a compromise to placate Collins, the building manager. It was controlled from the Computer Center on the 33rd floor.
- Reception Area
- All the typical visitor saw on the 30th floor was the Fantastic Four’s reception area. The visitor was greeted by Roberta, a usuform robot. Her visible half (above the waist) appeared to be an attractive blond in her 20s. Below the waist she was a pivoting arm attached directly to her desk. Roberta was tied directly to the Fantastic Four’s computer system and could monitor the entire building. The reception room was also filled with hidden scanners to probe visitors. If the visitor were hostile, the floor was rigged to deliver a stunning electrical shock. Once the visitor had been cleared, a panel opened to reveal a lift to the 31st floor.
- 31st Floor
- The 31st floor contained the Fantastic Four’s living quarters. There were suites for Reed and Sue, Ben, and Johnny; originally Sue and Johnny commuted, using their suites when convenient, while Reed and Ben were permanent residents. Several guest rooms for other Fantastic Four members and the extended family, and the dining and living areas.
- 32nd Floor
- The 32nd floor contained more living areas, Alicia Masters’ studio (when she was a resident), the medical lab, the library, and reference room.
- 33rd Floor
- The 33rd floor contained Reed’s laboratory. The floor plan changed constantly as Reed added additional experiments and devices. In the Computer Center was a lever for activating the magnetic repellors on the 30th floor.
- 34th Floor
- The 34th floor could be considered the actual headquarters. The computer banks, monitor banks, communications center, and briefing room were all there, as well as the overflow from Reed’s laboratory below. The Astro-sciences section was tied in to SHIELD’s and Project: Starcore’s systems.
- 35th Floor
- The 35th floor contained the hangars for the Fantastic Four’s various vehicles, storage space, and a machine shop capable of building or repairing vehicles. A reinforced door in the corner led to the launching silo for the Fantastic Four’s rocketship. This passenger ICBM was launched and stored in a heavily muffled silo with vibration-asborbing walls and exhaust pipes leading all the way to the Hudson River. The other vehicles were on platforms that carried them around the floor and over to the launching hatch.
- The Roof
- The roof was flat and featureless. A large Fantastic Four insignia marked the retractable hatch for launching and landing vehicles. If a Fantastic Four vehicle approached, the hatch would open automatically. There were a series of observatory domes located at various spots on the roof. Originally a permanent dome was located on the corner opposite the rocket silo. The last dome was closer to the silo but retractable. The entire dome could be lowered through the floor to the 35th-floor hangar. This left the roof completely clear for action and eliminated the only hiding place for a trespasser. The observatory equipment included a computer-linked telescope and twin telescopic cameras.
- Windows are 2-foot thick composites of various glasses and plastics which are mirrored on the outside. Solid, armored, exterior walls are also mirror-clad and are indistinguishable from transparent sections. The top five sections of the Baxter Building are completely airtight, all doors are airlocks. Complete environmental support, including atmosphere is provided by the area between elevators 2, 3, and 4 on all floors. The building's steel-alloy framework may be rigid enough to be stood on one corner and not deform (though Reed himself stated that this was due to the use of tactile telekinesis by Gladiator).
- While the fire stairs extended the length of the building, they were blocked by a Fantastic Four insignia marked door on floor 34. The door opened automatically from the inside or could be externally opened by a solenoid activator. Since the door was never used except in emergencies, its opening triggered alarms in the master control and computer systems. This prevented intruders from entering the Fantastic Four’s headquarters by way of the stairwell.
- Security Systems
- The Fantastic Four’s master computer controlled all locks involving the upper floors. Such locks could be manually operated or overridden by either the master control or the computer system. The computer system maintained visual, audio, biophysical, and electronic surveillance on every section of the building. The building was equipped with devices that could disrupt the functioning of a single targeted device or stop the functioning of all electrical machinery within the Baxter Building. This system could be activated by the computer, by Roberta, by someone in the control room on the 33rd floor, or by anyone who might punch the panic buttons located in every room. If the button were pushed, the field would envelope the entire building.
Days of Future Past (Earth-811)
In the reality of Earth-811, the Sentinels operated out of their main headquarters in the Baxter Building. The X-Men infiltrated the building to disable their operations across the entire continent, but the robots managed to kill Storm and Wolverine.
- No special notes.
- No trivia.
- Appearances of Baxter Building
- Location Gallery: Baxter Building
- Images related to Baxter Building
- Fan Art Gallery: Baxter Building
- Marvel Staff members who were born in Baxter Building
Links and References
- Fantastic Four #3 - First Appearance; Identified as the Fantastic Four's new headquarters.
- Fantastic Four #6 - The entire building was launched into space by Doctor Doom, but was safely returned to Earth by the Sub-Mariner.
- Fantastic Four #9 - Top five floors sold back to the Leland Baxter Paper Company
- Fantastic Four #15 - Taken over by the Mad Thinker and his gang.
- Fantastic Four #20 - Levitated off of its foundation by the Molecule Man; Restored by the Watcher.
- Amazing Spider-Man #1
- Amazing Spider-Man #5
- Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1
- Amazing Spider-Man #18
- Amazing Spider-Man #19