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Atlas Obscura’s Favorite Tumblrs, Part One: The Juggernauts

Over on the Atlas Obscura Tumblr, we’re constructing an ever-evolving curio cabinet of sorts, one where we present you with wonders from our archives alongside others we’ve only just stumbled upon.

Tumblr is a goldmine for inspiration of all kinds, particularly at night when the id of the internet runs wildest. Imagine a back alley of the interwebs curated by bloggers whose preferred medium is more often pictures than words, where what’s posted runs the gamut from seedy to transcendent. Tantalizing, no? But often this specific brand of greatness has trouble escaping from the insular confines of Tumblr. So as the Atlas Obscura Tumblr Editor, I thought I’d take a moment to introduce you to some folks doing great things in the same vein of what we Obscuraphiles appreciate.  

Atlas Obscura’s guide to Tumblr has been broken into two sections for your convenience. Part One, below, features what I fondly refer to as the “juggernauts.” These guys are veritable institutions, often backed by staffs of professionals who polish their respective Tumblrs ‘til they gleam. (Although two of these would not qualify as institutions in any sphere except Tumblr. But their quality and mass of content, paired with a bajillion followers each,  makes them honorary juggernauts.) The second installment will be full of characters I think of as the David to this portion’s Goliath.

So, without further ado, here are the pillars of the Tumblr world for the obscure, for history, and for the unexpected in adventure:

THE SMITHSONIAN

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The Smithsonian’s Tumblr claims to merely be “tidbits of knowledge from our museums, research centers and beyond,” but really it’s a collection of facts, oddities, and hilarious house-made GIFs that only one of the largest museum complexes in the world could pull off.

FUCK YEAH CARTOGRAPHY

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Fuck Yeah Cartography is the go-to compendium for all things cartographic, regardless of era, origin, or content. It’s easy to get lost in there, flipping through inventive portrayals of our world, both young and old. 

PARIS REVIEW

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Paris Review’s Tumblr is great, but it’s made even more so by the surprise factor: who’d have thought a literary journal could so thoroughly master Tumblr? Turns out they rule the highbrow with their unique juxtaposition of writing and imagery. 

MY PUBLIC LANDS

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My Public Lands is run by the Bureau of Land Management to showcase the oft-overlooked portion of the country that we collectively own. Neither park nor preserve, these lands feature crazy wild life, ghost towns, natural disaster areas, and more.  

THE ELECTRIC TYPEWRITER

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The Electric Typewriter presents “great articles and essays by the world’s best journalists and writers.” Their collections of thematically organized longreads are the reason why the phrase “like shooting fish in a barrel” exists, providing a nice break from Tumblr’s image-over-substance tendencies.

WNYC RADIOLAB

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Radiolab is a massively popular public radio show whose ongoing preoccupations include the overlap of science, philosophy, and human experience. Their Tumblr does a wonderful job in keeping with this spirit.

LAPHAM’S QUARTERLY

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Lapham’s Quarterly is the imp of magazines whose fodder is the history of ideas. Their Tumblr excels where ideas of consequence are presented with LQ’s calling card balance of gravitas and whimsy.

THE APPENDIX JOURNAL

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The Appendix Journal runs its Tumblr like an academic journal obsessed with tangible, fascinating relics of history. Because that’s what they are and that’s what they do.

FUCK YEAH ABANDONED PLACES

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Fuck Yeah Abandoned Places is 100% what the name says it is: ruin porn at its finest.

MATADOR NETWORK

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Matador Network has everything you need that’s even tangentially related to travel, plus lots of stuff you don’t “need,” per se, but definitely want.

THE BELIEVER

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The Believer uses their tumblr as a showcase for special, supplementary features on contemporary literature, music, and art that extend beyond the scope of the print magazine itself.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC FOUND

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National Geographic Found is a daily photo from archives of the undisputed champ of photography-induced wanderlust and curiosity.


Stay tuned for Part Two of Atlas Obscura’s Tumblr round-up, in which we showcase our favorite underdogs on Tumblr, run by individuals or small collectives of souls who are every bit as passionate as the professional juggernauts above!