Tagged: Atlas Obscura

International Obscura Day Returns May 2015

A little over a week ago, Atlas Obscura—the Greenpoint, Brooklyn–based purveyors of the strange, the offbeat, and, yes, the obscure—announced that they are relaunching their International Obscura Day. In the past, the day has consisted of organized tours, located throughout the world, in the spirit of the Atlas Obscura.

Obscura Day is the real-world manifestation of Atlas Obscura – a day of expeditions, back-room tours, unusual access and discovery in your hometown. More than just cataloging the curious, wondrous and overlooked places of the world, we’d like to encourage you to actually go out and explore them. Special events will be taking place at unusual locations across the globe as we highlight obscure collections, eclectic museums, hidden wonders and curiosities near and afar to show that the same sense of wonder invoked by exotic travels can be found close to home if you know where to look.

On Obscura Day 2012, Sarah and I went on a couple of tours, including a jaunt around our very own Superfund site and a lower-Manhattan pub crawl with a bunch of Victorians. As a validation of my photography that day, the New York City chapter used some of my photos to illustrate their recap of the day.

Although I didn’t attend any events in 2013 or 2014, I didn’t actually miss any events. Apparently, Obscura Day went on a two-year hiatus but will be returning this year at the end of May.

Atlas Obscura Day return May 30, 2015

As of right now, Obscura Day is in the save-the-date stage. You can, however, sign up for the newsletter, to learn of any updates. As excited as I am to see what tours will be scheduled around New York this year, it might make for a worthwhile reason to organize an out-of-town bike trip.

Obscura Society NYC to Visit the Abandoned Ruins of Bannerman Island

The Obscura Society of NYC will visit the abandoned ruins of Bannerman Island on July 22:

Built between 1901 and 1918, the property was modeled after Scottish baronial castles and sits on a tiny, rugged island in Hudson Valley. Frank Bannerman became a surplus munitions dealer as a teenager and a few decades later his collection was so vast that he needed to buy the island for storage space. Some of his most notable purchases include 90% of the army surplus from the Spanish-American War, cannons from the Battle of Yorktown and equipment from Admiral Perry’s expedition to the Arctic Circle.

Sarah took me on a weekend getaway last July to tour the island but we went by kayak. I highly recommend taking the tour to peek at the ruins and to see some great views of the Hudson River Valley.

Obscura Day

Saturday was my first Obscura Day. This year’s lineup didn’t seem as exotic as past last year’s events around the New York area. Sarah, for instance, went to the Vanderbilt Museum on Long Island, a place that I never would have visited on my own. I didn’t go in 2011 2010 because I didn’t want to miss a softball game, but this year, I was ready to make an early-season sacrifice.


The one event that caught my attention was Thirteen Steps Around Dutch Kills, a walking tour of Newtown Creek. It was led by a true expert of the area, so I was excited to take the tour. It was an eye-opening perspective. It’s not like I haven’t been around the industrial zones of Long Island City and Greenpoint. I have either biked or driven past those spots over the last several years. It’s just that one tends to overlook the industrial blight around Newtown Creek. Perhaps the best part was finally taking the ironically named Nature Walk path around Whale Creek, behind the new sanitation plant.


In the evening, I sacrificed yet another softball game for a tour of nineteenth-century drinking establishments. It was basically a tour of watering holes in Lower Manhattan that have been around for a long time, such as Fraunces Tavern, Delmonico’s, and the Paris Café. Despite having lived in New York for over a decade, I had never been in these spots since I never went below Chambers Street unless someone was in town or I had to report for jury duty. I felt a little under-prepared as there were people there in costume. I really appreciated that because it made the experience a little more authentic.