On our various Obscura Day outings last Saturday, we were all asked one question in common (in addition to the more site specific ones, like “are there spiders down here?”, “where is the typewriter fortune telling machine?”, and “can I hold the plastinated kidney next?”), and that question was, “how did you guys come up with this idea?”
A little background: Atlas Obscura launched last June, but it was not until November that most of us were able to meet up in New York City for the first time. Over the course of that crazy weekend, spreadsheets were produced, meetings were held, and plans hashed out. Most importantly, we got to know each other, and it was not long before the ideas started flowing.
It quickly became a priority to us to find a way to “escape the web” and go out and do stuff. Armchair travel is nice and all, but real world adventure beats the pants off theoretical travel any day.
One of our first thoughts was to produce big adventurous tours to far flung exotic places of mystery (Easter Island for the full eclipse anyone?), and while we still really, really, want to do that, we realized that one of the hang ups of the traveler can be a habit of overlooking places that are close by.
All of us at the Atlas have traveled and explored unusual places in far away lands, and we all have long must-see lists. But at the same time, we are just as guilty as anyone of not taking full advantage of the places near us.
That’s when we hatched the idea of going out and exploring locally. It was just one short leap from there to the idea of a global simultaneous event. After all, everything we want to see is in someone’s home town.
We have spent the last three months reaching out and planning Obscura Day, and we could not be more delighted at the response that we have gotten from friends and strangers alike in all corners of the world.
We think that this means something, and is important. Here is a stab at what that meaning might be:
As Josh busted out at our first meeting, Plato once said, “All philosophy begins with wonder.” We all feel that the wondrous and curious are significant because they engage us in the world around us, acting as enticing gateways into history, into science, and ultimately into a more intimate connection with our world. That we have found so many like minded people who also want to explore the hidden parts of the world around us is infinitely encouranging, and we are so excited to get beyond the web - as powerful a connector as it can be - and go out and explore together.
As you may have guessed, this is just the beginning.