New York has always been an activity hub in the Marvel Universe. The company was founded by a City kid, Stan Lee, and the bulk of its classic characters were drawn and fleshed out by Jack Kirby, who happened to be from Brooklyn. Naturally, the epicenter of the comics universe that the young company was creating would be its amazing hometown, New York City. Marvel’s fictionalized New York would serve as headquarters for a slew of its most notable superheroes and superhero squads, including Tony Stark, Spider-Man, Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Strange and the Avengers. But like most city types, the Marvel Comics had a fascination with moving upstate, as evidenced by the placement of one of its most famous franchises.
The X-Men, part time mutant-human peace advocates and most-of-the-time superheroes, make their home at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in Salem Center. Salem Center is a real-life hamlet of the real-life town of North Salem in Westchester. Two of the most prominent X-Men of all, professor Charles Xavier – team leader, hyperintellect, almost-peerless telepath – and Jean Grey – powerful telepath and occasional host of the Cosmos-rattling Phoenix Force – have roots in Red Hook, specifically in the town’s hamlet of Annandale-on-Hudson.
According to Marvel’s website, Professor X studied biology at Bard College before enrolling at Oxford University to do his graduate work, and Jean Grey spent her childhood in Annandale while her father worked as a professor at Bard. Kind of strange that two such major characters would be able to call a small upstate New York burg their home, right?
Chalk it up to Chris Claremont. A comics writer who took over the then-failing X-Men franchise in the 1970s and brought it back to fruition by penning several classic story arcs and focusing on character development, Claremont attended Bard as an undergraduate. “What’s the point of going to a great school if you can’t make it a slightly supporting character in a cool comic series?” he told Almanac. Claremont admits that making Annandale Jean Grey’s childhood home was his call, but says that he wasn’t aware of Professor X’s relationship to Bard.