First of all, do you guys know about Atlas Obscura? After Imgur, it’s my #1 Internet rabbit hole. Atlas Obscura is a thing of where some wise guy (or guyess) had the idea of making an all-inclusive database (an “atlas,” if you will) of the world’s bizarrest and mind-wonderingest places, and then allowing us, the public people, to chime in with auxiliary info about the places. And check in at the Mir Diamond Mine in Siberia or the rainbow-toned Fly Geyser in Nevada or that lake in India with hundreds of ancient human skulls scattered around the banks that no one ever bothered to clean up. And add photos. There are some seriously stupendous photos up in this site. I can and will sit around and click “take me to a random place” for hours.
I also turn to Atlas Obscura as a de rigeuer step of travel-planning. I’ve discovered myriad dinosaur theme parks and teapot-shaped gas stations and secret speakeasies and ruined Victorian bathhouses this way, and I’ve got countless more fantasy-trips conjured up thanks to it. AO does me a great service by existing and is a huge boon to, you know, my life. My life being what it is.
So, there’s that, but then also, tomorrow is Obscura Day! Glad you asked. Once a year, Atlas Obscura’s fans and minions host dozens of events involving local weirdness, in cities across the globe, from Brooklyn to Berlin. My own dear high school (and current) pal Bess Lovejoy, author of a forthcoming book about traveling corpses, will be hosting Seattle’s chapter this year, with a tour of the spewkity INScape building, fka the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s vintage administration building-slash-prison that’s been lately revitalized as an arts space. Reportedly, immigrants were routinely held there for years at a time. The tour entails everything between the ground floor and the attic, including the ancient toilet graveyard and Alcatraz-style coverage of the individual cells, and will be curated by INScape project manager and developer Sam Farrazaino.
We’ll also be stopping by the petite Northwest Museum of Legends and Lore, housed within the building, and its collection of pieces on such crackpot conspiracies as: Sasquatch, D. B. Cooper (don’t get me started on D. B. Cooper, folks), the Maury Island UFO/Air Force crash thing in the ’40s, sundry Gold Rush ghosts, that doctor lady who starved people in the 1910s, Kurt Cobain (don’t get me started on that guy either, actually), and the world’s allegedly deepest hole in Ellensburg. Not sure why, but the museum also has, seemingly just for me, a huge foosball table-sized model-map of the 1964 New York World’s Fair in Queens, with a tiny fountain and tiny cars and tiny Shea Stadium. (What is this? A World’s Fair FOR ANTS?)
Afterward, we’ll retire to the nefarious and historical Panama Hotel Coffee and Tea House, site of a mass Japanese internment raid during WWII and which has a weird hidey-hole cut-away window in the floor with sad artifacts in it, for a quick trivia game on local history. Written by me, but that’s neither here nor there, is it.
Here are the deets on all of the world’s Obscura Day festivities. If you’re in Seattle and would like to join us tomorrow, don’t be fooled by the headline here: it’s no longer sold out and has been fortified with an extra batch of tickets. We’d love to see you there.
Seattle’s Obscura Day tour of INScape starts at 3pm on Saturday, April 28th; the group will meet in front of INScape at 815 Seattle Boulevard South, across-ish from the Uwajimaya parking lot in the International District. Tickets are $10 and include admission to the Northwest Museum of Legends and Lore. Buy tickets at obscuraday.com.