Beautiful Googie Architecture

Union 76 Gas Station

The dramatic upward-curving roof is one of the most iconic examples
of Googie architecture that still stands today.

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What looks like a flying carpet anchored to the ground with pillars at
the intersection of Crescent Drive and Little Santa Monica Boulevard in
Los Angeles is actually a functional gas station. It’s also one of the most
iconic examples of Googie architecture in the world.

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The dramatic upward-curved canopy decorated with red square tiles was
originally designed in the 1960s by architect Gin Wong to be a part of the
city’s airport, but when that plan was changed, it ended up as a Union 76
gas station. When the fluorescent lights that follow the curve are turned on,
Jack Colker’s 76 station, as it is commonly known, goes from flying carpet
to embellished spaceship.

It was completed in 1965, right around the time when the eye-catching
Googie style was extremely popular in California. Inspired by the SpaceAge,
fast cars, and jets, Googie style buildings contain steel, plastic, and neon,
twisted into crazy shapes and designs. Several of these whimsical creations
were demolished in the decades that followed but there are still handful of
them scattered around the Golden State.


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Atlas Obscura

Beautiful Upside Down House

“What if I should fall right through the center of the earth…oh, and come out on the other side where people walk upside-down?” – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.

And now something weird for your Friday. You wouldn’t think the world would have so many upside down houses, but it does. People have built them for all kinds of reasons, from starting up a tourist attraction to commenting on the absurdity of politics.

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Upside Down House in Usedom, Germany: Designers Klausdiusz Golos and Sebastian Mikiciuk have a very nonchalant approach to this tourist exhibit, saying, “We didn’t do it for a reason. We just wanted to do something different.”

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Upside Down House at the Old School House Museum in Lee Vining, California: Part of an outdoor exhibit at a roadside museum in California, this tiny shed gets top billing as the “legendary upside-down house!”

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Wonderworks in Orlando, Florida: They bill themselves as “Central Florida’s only upside down attraction — an amusement park for the mind, featuring over 100 interactive exhibits.”

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Upside Down House in Poland: Daniel Czapiewski, an entrepreneur in Poland, built this house to comment on the insanity of contemporary politics (and bring in tourists as well).

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Casa de Cabeca para Baixo in Rio: Don’t know too much about this upside-down house, except that it’s located in Cabo Frio, Rio de Janeiro, and the Flickr member who took the photo says “They are reforming it. It’s a Showroom from a house-construction shop.”

Beautiful Castle

When in Colorado you won’t want to miss visiting Bishops Castle, an extraordinary work of one man. For 40 years, Jim Bishop has been building a castle on a mountainside in central Colorado. Every year since 1969, Bishop has single-handedly gathered and set over 1000 tons of rock to create this stone and iron fortress
in the middle of nowhere.

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With the help of his parents Jim saved up and bought himself a two and
a half acre plot of land in rural Colorado, planning to hunt and live on it.
A frontier spirit, when Jim decided it was time for him and his wife to get
a house, he figured he would build it himself. What started as a one room
stone cottage would soon grow to astounding proportions: it may be the
largest one-man architecture project in the world. Today the frontier
fortress reaches over 16 stories high, has three large cathedral windows,
wrought iron walkways and a steel fire-breathing dragon. Today Jim Bishop
is 63 and is still building. It is unlikely he will stop anytime soon.


Beautiful Old World Movie House

The Wonder Theatres were five giant, lavish movie palaces that opened around
New York City in 1929 and 1930. While cinemas were plentiful at the time,
the Wonder Theatres were a cut above the rest. Built as Loew’s flagship theatres,
the opulent venues were designed with all the fabulousness of the Jazz Age, and
went on to provide an escape into the fantasy of Hollywood and luxury
throughout the Great Depression and Second World War.


The last of the Wonder Theatres to open was the Loew’s 175th Street Theatre,
today known as the United Palace Theater. It debuted on February 22, 1930, with showings of the films Their Own Desireand Pearls and vaudeville performances
starring Al Shaw and Sam Lee. The theater is a sight to behold. The lavish interior,
much of which is filigreed, features authentic Louis XV and XVI furnishings and
ornate chandeliers, while the blocky exterior is reminiscent of Mayan architecture.
Its eclectic architectural style, designed by Thomas W. Lamb, was described by
The New York Times as “Byzantine-Romanesque-Indo-Hindu-Sino-Moorish-Persian-Eclectic-Rococo-Deco” and a “kitchen sink masterpiece.” With more than
3,000 seats, it is still the fourth largest venue of its kind in Manhattan.


Movie palaces eventually fell out of vogue, however, and the grand
Wonder Theatres fell into decline and abandon in the late 60s and
through the 70s. Today, two of the theaters (the Jersey Theatre in
Jersey City and Kings Theatre in Brooklyn) still serve as cinemas
and performance venues. Another two (the Paradise Theatre in the
Bronx and Valencia Theatre in Queens) became churches.
The United Palace Theater, located in upper Manhattan’s
Washington Heights, found a second life as a unique mix of both.


The former Wonder Theatre still functions as a church, as well as a movie
house with a 50-foot screen, and a performance venue that has brought in
acts as diverse as Adele, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, and the Berlin Philharmonic.
It also serves as a cultural and community arts center, opened by Reverend
Ike’s son Xavier Eikerenkoetter, who now oversees operations of the
historic venue.





Atlas Obscura

Beautiful St. Paddy’s Day

St. Paddy’s Day is definitely an homage to Ireland, but there’s no denying that it also pays tribute to something a little more universal – booze. And while you may be thinking “What the heck does alcohol have to do with green design?” there are actually a keg’s worth of hooch-related eco innovations out there that you might not know about yet.


When Irish cabinetmaker John Walsh decided to convert his rusty old caravan into a tiny pub, the world’s most charming St. Patrick’s Day hotspot was born. The Shebeen is literally translated into “an illicit bar where alcohol is sold illegally.” The mobile booze cruiser was so popular in Ireland, the people of Boston commissioned another one to be brought to the states.




This brings new meaning to the song 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall. Aspiring architect in Chongqing city, China designed and constructed his very own office with 8,500 recycled beer bottles. The impressive upcycled structure gets its sturdy foundation from 40 layers of beer bottles. The entire construction took four months and $11,000 to complete.



Have your brick and drink it too? Famed beer brewer Alfred Heineken and Dutch architect John Habraken came out with their Heineken WOBO (world bottle) brick all the way back in 1963, but the principle behind it still rings true today. As you probably already guessed, the idea behind the boozy brick was that thirsty people could drink their fix of beer from the WOBO and reuse it to build structures. Cheers to that.



It must have taken a lot of frat parties to empty out the 33,000 yellow beer crates that architects SHSH stacked atop one another to create this intoxicating pavilion. Using the crates like giant legos, the design features interesting architectural touches like columns, arches and even domes inside.




Beautiful Hidden Havana

Looking to travel to Cuba? Before you go, check out Atlas Obscura for the perfect itinerary. The itinerary features many of the best suggestions submitted by Atlas Obscura readers who have previously explored Havana. Delve into immersive history, religious traditions, music and dancing, artist interactions, and curiosities galore. Read all about it here.

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Photos from Atlas Obscura

Beautiful Drone Photography

With an increasing number of drones in the sky, professional photographers and enthusiasts alike can now access perspectives that are typically seen from the seat of an airplane. Image-sharing site Dronestagram, a drone-specific social network with 600 million users, brings us some of the best aerial photography. Dronists continue to deliver unbelievably stunning shots, ensuring us that the future has definitely arrived—and that it’s worth celebrating. As the Dronestagram Team writes on their website, “On behalf of the whole team, we would like to thank you for showing the world the power of drones! …Now take a deep breath and enjoy.”

Bogata Forest, Romania by Calin Stan

Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, Umbria, Italy by Fcatutto

Niagara Falls by Ryanjones

Copacabana, Rio de janeiro, Brazil by Ulysses Padilha

Cable Beach, Australia by Todd Kennedy

Summer Camp, Amadores, Gran Canaria, Spain by Karolis Janulis

Wedding in Huahine, French Polynesia by Helene Havard

Swarm of sheep, Romania by Thedon

Red Chili Farmer, Guntur, India by Aurobird

Huia dam New Zealand by Brendon Dixon

Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy by jcourtial

Fields of Lavender in Valensole, Provence, France by jcourtial