Urban Enigmas Contest

This contest has ended. The winners are:

Contest Entries (0)

Deadline: December 30, 2008 12:00p PT


  • Writing Editor's Choice 1: $250 contract
  • Writing Editor's Choice 2: $250 contract
  • Writing Editor's Choice 3: $250 contract
  • Writing Editor's Choice 4: $250 contract
  • Writing Editor's Choice 5: $250 contract

Archived Introduction

A good, productive city is often depicted as a hive of people zipping from one place to the next with purpose and determination. As any urban dweller knows, there’s not much fun in that — few of us move to the big city to sleepwalk through it. Situationist hero Guy Debord called this state of mesmerism the “petrified life” and urged urbanites to interact with the landscape in a deeper (and weirder) way. To notice what is hidden in plain sight, you have to be in the right frame of mind, which is to say, you have to be looking. Proto-slackers like Baudelaire paved the way, drifting through the streets riffing off the endless possibilities and moods, discovering poetry and mystery in the smallest details. Others, like today’s street artists, take a more active role, altering the urban terrain in ways that provoke and entertain passersby. The enigmatic, inscrutable corners of cities get short shrift in guidebooks and travel sections, because they aren’t landmarks or must-see-before-you-die kinds of spots. The intersection of art, literature, history and mythology imbues these 13 places with meaning.

Creative Manifesto

  • Only original work.
  • Writers: Use concrete details — easy on the adjectives.
  • Photographers and writers: Zoom in — with your writing and your camera.
  • Not just places — experiences.
  • All edits must be before the deadline: December 30, 2008
  • More tips »
  • Rules


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