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The Battle between Boston and New York to Take Transportation Underground

New York subway construction (1908) (via New York Public Library)At the end of the 19th century, two of the major cities of the United States were pushing their ambitious building underground. Both New...

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Seven of the World's Most Cursed Islands

Lokrum Island (photograph by Eric Hossinger)From Hawaii to the Mediterranean, and from the lakes of Canada down to the tropics of Malaysia; these islands are some of the most beautiful destinations in...

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Relics Of The World's Fair: Melbourne

Eye Of the Emu (by Mugley, via Flickr)After visiting Paris, Chicago, Barcelona, New York City, Montreal, and St. Louis, Atlas Obscura's ongoing tour of Worlds' Fair relics now moves further south.Royal...

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The First Museum for the History of Exploration Opens in Ireland

Despite the fact that much of history was guided by explorers venturing out into the uncharted and bringing back evidence of a world beyond their own, there is no museum dedicated just to exploration....

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From Heaven to Hell: A Visit to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Devil's...

On Halloween night of 1936, Jack Parson and his "Suicide Squad"completed the first successful rocket test in Arroyo Seco, California. That was the day the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena...

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Objects of Intrigue: 16th Century Rocket Cats

via Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, Cod. Pal. germ. 128, f.74r Why are these animals in a 16th century manuscript wearing jet packs? That's the mystery Mitch Fraas, Scholar in Residence at the...

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Society Adventures: A History of Crime and Vice in San Francisco's Chinatown

On Sunday January 26, 2014, during a pre-New Year's festival, Atlas Obscura gathered a group of 15 at Red’s Place, the oldest bar in San Francisco’s Chinatown.all photographs by the authorFor the next...

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Photo of the Week: The Skeleton Parade

In the Photo of the Week feature, we highlight an exceptionally amazing photograph submitted by an Atlas Obscura user.Animal bones can be some of the most unsettling objects around and while most...

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A Festival on a Frozen Lake: The Art Shanty Projects of Minnesota

The rolling Pedal Bear at Art Shanty Projects (all photographs by the author)Atlas Obscura’s recent article on the historic Thames Frost Fair, where a festival was held on London's frozen Thames River,...

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Welcome to Magic Week!

A vintage magician poster (via abbasj812/Flickr user)Welcome to Magic Week, a world of wonder and illusions! This week we're exploring magic in all its manifestations, from magnificent magicians to...

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Magic and Your Lizard Brain: The Mind Tricks behind Conjuring Ghosts

An illustration from Ellis Stanyon's "Magic: in which are given clear and concise explanations of all the well-known illusions, as well as many new ones" (1910) (via Wikimedia)Everyone has a lizard...

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New York City's Oldest Magic Shop: A Photo Tour

New York City hosts a number of magic shops, but only one can be the oldest. It is also perhaps the city's most hidden magic shop, as well as perhaps its most subdued magic shop.Tannen's has been...

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Beyond the Bonds of Death: Four Places to Find Houdini's Legend Still Living...

Houdini in his crate escape trick, first performed in New York's East River (via New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Billy Rose Theatre Collection)Harry Houdini arrived in New York City in...

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Traces of the Alchemist Who Discovered the Philosopher's Stone in Paris

Joseph Wright, "The Alchymist, in Search of the Philosopher’s Stone, discovers Phosphorus, and prays for the successful conclusion of his operation, as was the custom of the ancient chymical...

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Shopping for Spells: Exploring Four of the World's Witchcraft Markets

Some practicing witches purport to be able to cure and transform people, or create favorable, or unfavorable, conditions. And these witches require supplies for their conjuring, and for this there are...

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Black Magic Baby: The Macabre History of Kuman Thong

A reproduction Kuman Thong sold as a souvenir at the Buddhist temple at Ayutthaya, Thailand (photograph by Greg Field)We often grumble about security procedures at airports, whether it's the long lines...

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At the Center of Russian Buddhism, a Festival Reveals an Undead Lama

all photographs by the author unless indicatedThere is a place in Siberia, cradled in the spurs of the rolling Khamar-Daban Mountains, that holds tenuously to the Tibetan calendar. It is Ivolginsky...

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Stabbing Horn of Justice: The Most Magical Facts About the Unicorn

click to view full sizeWhat animal has a horn that can reverse the deadly properties of poison, whose greatest weakness is a beautiful maiden? A unicorn, of course! But there's much more to the...

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How the Ouija Board Got Its Name

The Parker Brothers version of the Ouija board (via Dave Winer) These days, the word “Ouija” conjures up shades of mysticism, Satanic panics, and teenage bedrooms. The origin of the term is supposedly...

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A Hike to the Hollywood Sign, a Temporary Landmark That Became an Icon

The Hollywood Sign has come to signify all that is glamorous in the movie-making business, but over nine decades ago, those hillside letters — made of telephone poles, corrugated sheet metal, and...

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