Atlas Obscura Behind-The-Scenes Tours: Highly Recommend


Atlas Obscura schedules the most fascinating explorations of random, off-the-beaten-path places around the world.


Subscribe to their email newsletter, and you’ll be alerted to upcoming events. Their U.S. cities include Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Philadelphia, NYC, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC.  Globally, they’re everywhere from Barcelona to Beijing to Berlin to Rome (plus many more cities).

I’ve previously joined them for a visit to NYC’s Explorer’s Club, which was terrific. Every tour is led by an expert on that specific subject and location.

Their website breaks down their trips in a variety of ways from most popular, e.g., Catacombes de Paris or the Underground Tunnels in LA, to most visited, most random, newest and so on.

The walking tour I went on this past Wednesday explored NYC’s infrastructure, including our largest sewer plant, tunnels, draw and truss bridges, rail yards, and recycling plants.

Our guide was Mitch Waxman. He’s the Newtown Creek Alliance Historian, but beyond being knowledgeable about every inch of this terrain, he’s also entertaining, opinionated and a real treat to walk with. You’ll learn a lot about the history of NYC on this almost-three hour trek from Greenpoint to Long Island City’s waterfront.

Atlas Obscura does not lie when it says we will “get up close and personal” with the underbelly of the Newtown Creek Superfund site!

  • Our tour started in Greenpoint right near the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant (gross but fascinating!).
  • It took us over six bridges
  • We learned about the history of this Superfund site including all of the businesses that helped to create this mess
  • We traversed three rail yards
  • A major highway
  • Tons of sanitation truck routes with detailed info on how NYC handles its recyclables
  • And after all that grime, we ended up at the new Hunter’s Point South Park which is gorgeous with the most beautiful views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island City

I got some fantastic photos from our trek across this industrial and obscure section of Greenpoint and Long Island City.


Scroll down for photos. And again, if you are a history buff or just fascinated by random, off-the-beaten-path locations and their backstories, check out Atlas Obscura – you will thank me!!


Our amazing tour guide, Mitch Waxman


Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant – this is where our poop goes to get processed.


View from the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge into Queens


Vintage cars at one of the film studios in the area


Another view from the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge into Queens


Our walk along the train tracks to the recycling plant where our garbage gets sorted to be shipped off to wherever (but only when the price is right!)


Green Asphalt, NYC’s number one leader in recycled asphalt pavement materials


Train cars being loaded with crushed recyclables.


Silver Cup (East) Film Studios


And at 9:30 pm our trek was over – 15,000 steps!! Thank you Atlas Obscura. Thank you, Mitch Waxman.

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