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Steampunking Union Square

Just when the steampunk genre seems to wane in popularity, it comes back again even stronger than before. New fans are constantly being drawn to the aesthetics of this alt brand of neo-Victorian futurism and its civilization built on steam. Steampunk sets the imagination afloat with airships streaming across the sky, dark-paneled rooms with wunderkabinetts, bookshelves of imaginative objects, cogs and wheels, top-hatted and velvet-wearing cyborgs, catalogs of curiosities, and wondrous clocks. Any fan of the 19th century with a fascination for gizmos or an interest in the worlds of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Dr. Who, or even Tim Burton may be a candidate for steampunk fandom.

Steampunked Scene from Union Square
Union Square, steampunked, with steam 

While the Victorianism of steampunk may conjure the dark streets of London, New York's 19th century and early 20th century architecture and infrastructure will do. We have plenty of the 19th century urban Gotham landscape to work with. The point is not to live in the past, for the steampunk era is a fiction, but to imagine ways of enlivening the present through acts of creative digging, archiving, and repurposing. New York makes a fine place to imagine alternative histories of the city.

Steampunked Scene from Union Square
31 Union Square West, originally Bank of the Metropolis building. 1902-1903

Steampunked Scene from Union Square
The Decker Building in the background dates from 1892-1893.
Steampunked Scene from Union Square
Bank of the Metropolis

Here are scenes from Union Square on Saturday, October 22, 2011 made with the Steampunk PhotoTada! app (website) available in the iTunes store. While the usual Greenmarket was taking place, offering seasonal fare such as pumpkins, butternut squash, and Romanesco broccoli, musician Dotan Negrin was playing his piano (PianoAcrossAmerica.com), accompanied by his show-biz dog. Nearby, a woman brought her two African Gray parrots to enjoy the park ambience. At 2 o'clock, there was a demonstration against police brutality. Needless to say, many police officers showed up.


Steampunked Scene from Union Square
Musician's best friend
Steampunked Scene from Union Square
An African Gray enjoys a snack
Steampunked Scene from Union Square
marvelous folding bicycle machines and officers, Union Square

Not all the scenes yesterday were steampunk, but there was, in fact, steam.

If you're reading this post in time and are interested in learning more about this subgenre of fantasy and sci-fi, head on over to DUMBO on Sunday afternoon for the annual showcase of all things Steampunk. Information below. Also this month - the Steampunk Haunted House. Information also below.


Steampunked Scene from Union Square
Romanesco broccoli, steampunked but not yet steamed
Related Events:

 • STEAMPUNK EVENT: October 23, 2011. 2011 Steampunk. Dumbo Loft, 155 Water Street), 12 noon - 8 pm. $5 admission. Fashion show at 6 p.m. Website (Brooklyn Indie Market)

 • HAUNTED HOUSE: Third Rail Projects presents Steampunk Haunted House. Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand St. October 23, 26, 27 | $20; October 22, 28, 29, 30, 31 | $25; October 26 Halloween Party | $50; Students | $10 (walk up, day of only) Website

 • HOUSE HAUNTING: The Merchant's House Museum, 29 East Fourth Street, is said to be haunted. The museum hosts several spooky events and tours in the month of October. Website calendar.

Also, see more pictures from this set on Flickr WOTBA.

Stay tuned. More steampunked neighborhood strolls ahead. This is the first post in a series.

Now posted - A Steampunk Walk Down Under the Manhattan Bridge (Dumbo gets steampunked).

The series concludes with a trip to Roosevelt Island.









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