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Coffee jelly, glass eels, and more.
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May 04, 2021
Historic Coffee Jelly
In 2019, a Boston restaurant closed. Normally, a restaurant closing in a major city wouldn’t cause much of a commotion, but this was different. Durgin-Park had been open for almost 200 years, and was famed for serving food like Boston baked beans, bygone New England favorites, and a now nearly extinct dessert: coffee jelly, which is hard to find stateside, though it continues to thrive in Japan.
Personal Ads And The American West
In the early 19th century, America was expanding at a tremendous rate. For years, millions of square miles were added through wars, purchases, and the killing or forcible removal of the Native Americans who already lived there. The first white people who moved into these territories were often single men, with fewer women out west. People needed partners if they expected to be able to work that land or keep a house, and they needed community and infrastructure for support and protection. That meant marriages. The question was, of course, how? Enter personal and matrimonial ads.
Fort Yates, North Dakota
Standing Rock Monument
The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation covers more than two million acres of grass plains, rolling hills, and buttes running alongside the Missouri River. The reservation takes its name from a sacred rock formation that resembles a woman with a child on her back, and there are several versions of the story explaining the origin of the stone.
Atlas Obscura Courses
Shaking Up Cocktail History
Cocktails can be educational, too. We’re exploring this idea in this four-part lecture series which traces the history of the American cocktail, exploring drink recipes and techniques along the way. Award-winning author and cocktail expert Derek Brown will be our guide, as each session we zoom in on the history, recipes, and techniques of two drinks, which you’ll be encouraged to make!
Glass Eel Survival
Spare a thought for the humble European eel. These ancient fish begin as eggs somewhere in the western Atlantic Ocean’s Sargasso Sea before drifting along the currents towards Europe. They’ll develop into glass eels: near-translucent creatures, a few inches long at most. About one of every 500 glass eels survives, maturing before heading back to where they’d spawn to begin the cycle again. At least, that’s the plan. Now, they’re critically endangered, with perils awaiting at every turn.
Geologically speaking, Giant Rock—located in California’s Mojave Desert—is roughly seven stories high and covers almost 6,000 square feet. Some say it is the largest freestanding boulder in the world. While the rock has been a Native American spiritual site for thousands of years, its modern backstory begins in the 1930s, when a German immigrant and miner named Frank Critzer met a pilot named George Van Tassel.
The Atlas Obscura Podcast
The Institute of Illegal Images
In this episode of The Atlas Obscura Podcast, we visit the Institute of Illegal Images in San Francisco, a mind-bending place where the art stands out not because of what’s on it but what was in it.
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From the Archives
The Pickle Jar Highway
We all have objects that we notice every day. Maybe it’s a particular mailbox, or a funny sign on the way into work. Or maybe it’s a pickle jar, perched on a concrete wall next to a highway ramp. No, we’re serious—on the ramp that leads from I-270 North to Manchester Road, near a grocery store and a busy shopping mall, there often sits a quiet and mysterious jar of pickles. When it falls, breaks, or disappears, it is always replaced. It is the highway’s warty lodestar.
An unlikely entrance in an office parking lot leads to a cavernous hidden sandstone passage beneath the city. The tunnel was built in 1855 as the main access to an exclusive Victorian residential area, though thanks to a mistake, things did not end as planned.
Atlas Obscura Trips
Art of Joshua Tree
Artists and creators have long sought refuge, clarity, change, or perhaps simply broader horizons here in the Joshua Tree region. Join us as we traverse the legendary landscape that’s supported countless creative endeavors—visiting innovative and experimental art installations, glimpsing mysteriously marked rocks, and experiencing the magic of the desert along the way.
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