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Five Ghost Towns Abandoned after Disasters

China's "Ghost City" of Ordos (photograph by Darmon Richter)The full-scale evacuation of a thriving human settlement is no small operation, yet many of the disasters preceding such evacuations are...

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Inspiring Libraries in the Most Unexpected Places

Libraries are awesome. The sharing of information and a free access to thought through books is invaluable to any place. Which is why libraries have popped up in some of the strangest places. From a...

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Disneyland of Poop: Tour of the Los Angeles Water Treatment Plant

The Hyperion Water Treatment Plant (all photographs by the author)What happens when you flush the toilet or use the the bathroom sink? I arranged for the Los Angeles Obscura Society to have a...

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Objects of Intrigue: The Electric Whaling Harpoon

Whaling illustration from "Narrative of the Wreck of the 'Favourite' on the Island of Desolation" (1850) (via British Library)19th century whaling was brutal, bloody business, both for the whales and...

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A Photo Tour of the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital

The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital (all photographs by the author)What’s the fastest animal in the world? If you guessed cheetah, you’re way off. At 60 mph, the fastest of the big cats is nowhere close to...

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The Greatest Crane Migration Begins in Nebraska

via USFWS Mountain-PrairieThis weekend marks the start of one of the greatest natural spectacles in the world, when some 500,000 sandhill cranes descend on the Platte River Valley near Kearney,...

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The Hidden Magic of New York's Houdini Museum

Houdini's escape coffin in the Houdini Museum (all photographs by the author)Today marks 140 years since Harry Houdini was born as Erik Weisz in Budapest. The Hungarian would later move to the United...

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Classical Depravity: A Guide to the Perverted Past

Detail of the Borghese Vase (via Louvre)"Sexual intercourse began / In nineteen sixty-three," wrote Philip Larkin wryly in his 1967 poem "Annus Mirabilis." Antiquity thought otherwise.Gods and mortals,...

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Mark Your Calendars for 12 of the World's Weird Rites of Spring

Winter's over and spring is here, are you ready for the fire, snakes, and elephant processions? Here's your calendar for how to have the strangest and most wonderful April and May with 12 festivals and...

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Fairy Forts, Dens, & Glens: When Places Are Preserved by Mythical Belief

One of the Cottingley Fairy photographs from 1917 (via lhup.edu)Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed in fairies. While his most famous creation Sherlock Holmes would have debunked the 1917 Cottingley Fairy...

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An Abandoned Cinema in the Egyptian Desert Where the Only Show Is Sunset

The Sinai cinema in 2011 (photograph by Derek Cave)Hang a left off the highway asphalt near Sharm el-Sheikh, turn away from the warm sea lapping against Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, and head into the...

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The Impenetrable Island Isolation of Sea Forts

These islands are fortresses. Whether built up to consume tiny landforms or constructed on manmade foundations, sea forts are outposts of military might now left stranded in the seas. With...

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Sorry, We Have No Imagery Here: When Google Earth Goes Blind

Dubai's coastal expansion over time on Google Earth (via Google)Since its debut, Google Earth has been a kind of a double-edged sword. It’s a stupefying modern marvel, more or less indispensable to...

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Relics of the World's Fair: Brussels

The 1958 World's Fair 1958 (photograph by Charles Roberts)After visiting Paris, Chicago, Barcelona, New York City, Montreal, St. Louis, Melbourne, and Seattle, Atlas Obscura's next stop in our tour of...

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Curious Fact of the Week: The Spectacle of the Spectacles Museum

To appreciate the 700 years of bespectacled fashion, head to Amsterdam where eyewear from the likes of John Lennon, Buddy Holly, Elvis Costello, and Franz Schubert is collected in a 17th century...

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Morbid Monday: Living with the Dead

Maestro della Maddalena di Capodimonte, "Maddalena penitente" (17th century), oil on canvas (via Museo Regionale di Messina)Attitudes toward corpses and death in 20th century Western society range from...

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An Atlas Obscura Lock Picking Party

An array of locks and the tools to pick them at the Lock Picking Party(all photographs by Steven Acres, visit http://stevenacr.es to view more of his work)Last Friday, the New York Obscura Society...

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Rediscovering the Ruins of a Catastrophic WWI Explosion Everyone Forgot

A man stands in the massive crater left by the 1918 Morgan explosionIn 1918 the United States was standing at the latter years of World War I, a conflict that tore the globe apart at the seams and let...

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Where to Catch a Moonbow

Double moonbow over Victoria Falls! (photograph by Calvin Bradshaw)Spectacular rainbows are an Instagram feed a dozen, but what about moonbows? These rainbows of the night, also known as "lunar...

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Inns to Die For: Haunted Hotels of America

Children's room in the Villisca House (photograph by Jennifer Kirkland)On a summer night just over a century ago, two adults and six children where bludgeoned to death while they slept in the sleepy...

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