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Visiting the Steve Ditko Spider-Man Mural in Johnstown, PA

Johnstown, Pennsylvania is probably best known for the devastating floods that hit the city a century ago. However, the city is also the hometown of Spider-Man creator Steve Ditko, so it’s unsurprising that it’s home to a beautiful Spider-Man mural in his honor.

In fact, downtown Johnstown is home to the only Marvel-approved murals in the world.

Close up of Spider-Man on the mural in Johnstown Pennsylvania
Johnstown is home to the world’s only Marvel-approved murals.

Steve Ditko was born on November 2, 1927 in Johnstown, PA (meaning he would have been eight during the 1936 Johnstown Flood). Ditko lived in the city’s West End and graduated from Greater Johnstown High School in 1945. He would then spend time in the military before moving to New York City to study cartooning in 1950.

In the early 1960s, Ditko created the visuals and characteristics of Spider-Man under the direction of Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Stan Lee. He would also later create the character Dr. Strange and worked on early Iron Man sketches, as well as creating other minor characters for both Marvel and DC Comics.

Steve Ditko Yearbook Photo from Johnstown PA
Steve Ditko’s high school yearbook photo from his time in Johnstown. (Public Domain)

In recent years, Bottle Works, a local art center, decided that a mural was needed to honor this local icon, and, after several years of work, the first mural honoring Ditko was completed in June of 2022.

The Johnstown Spider-Man Mural is quite large at 49-feet wide by 28-feet tall and covers the entire northern wall of  Stone Bridge Brewing Company, only a few blocks from the Johnstown Flood Museum.

The mural is located along Washington Street at its intersection with Franklin Street. To find it, use the address for the brewery (104 Franklin Street, Johnstown, PA 15901) and simply walk around the corner.

This is a seriously impressive mural to see in person, with large images of Spider-Man, as well as Dr. Strange. Large lettering at the top of the mural lets you know that it’s dedicated to Ditko and his role as the creator of Marvel’s most popular character.

Close-up of the Spiderman Mural in Johnstown PA
A close-up look at some of the small imagery on the mural.

Interestingly, the mural wasn’t made by applying paint to the wall as is typically done. Instead, 50 large panels of parachute cloth were designed using some of Ditko’s original illustrations

The parachute cloth was installed with an acrylic gel adhesive and then covered with a sealant. It is said that this process makes the mural nearly indestructible.

Dr. Strange on the Steve Ditko Spider-Man Mural in Cambria County PA
Dr. Strange, another of Ditko’s creations, is also featured on the mural.

Personally, I’m not a big coming book fan, but Spider-Man is an iconic character, so seeing this mural was really cool, and the visuals on the mural are incredible well done. Since it’s not painted directly onto the wall, this mural has a really unique appearance and almost looks like it’s just a giant page of a comic book.

When visiting, make sure to take time to see it from both sides of Washington Street. Start by viewing it from afar to get an overall look at this incredible work, and then cross the street to see it up-close to really appreciate the details.

Steel Mill in Johnstown PA
The mural sits across the street from one of the city’s historic steel mills.

In addition to this large mural, a second mural was finished in 2023 on the side of Bottle Works (411 3rd Avenue, Johnstown, PA 15906). This second mural honors more of Ditko’s work, including some of his minor characters. It is a said a third mural is planned, but so far, a location has not been picked at the time of publication.

Overall, this Spider-Man mural is a really great addition to downtown Johnstown, and I can see it being something that might draw you to the city if you love Spider-Man or comics in general. However, even if you, like me, aren’t a huge fan, it’s still worth a quick stop while you are exploring Cambria County as it’s a great piece of Johnstown history to see.

Looking for more places to visit nearby? Check out the Heritage Discovery Center, Hinckston Run Falls, and the Johnstown Flood National Memorial.

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