Saturday, December 4, 2010

Poll: Is Seattle the "unofficial" capital of Steampunk?

Gasworks Park, by Dr. J. Palmer

A bit ago, while reading towards the build up of SteamCon II, I came across an article from a local Seattle journalist writing for "City Arts", which had an interesting title, specifically, "How Seattle became the center of a movement based on a history that never was".  In the article, there are a number of interesting interviews with Captain Robert from Abney Park, Mr. F. Ahmed (an owner of a local Steampunk emporium), and an overview of the Steam Rats effort to save a classic Seattle landmark clock from 1913.  However, it could be seen as a bit of a bold title, and even though Mr. Hammond was writing for the local sensibilities (in my estimation), I did start to wonder, is Seattle really the unofficial capital of Steampunk?

The Hotel Seattle, in Seattle, circa 1900

The Emerald City does have quite a number of circumstances which might lend credence to this prouncement.  It is the location of a very large Steampunk convention (specifically SteamCon), has outstanding Steampunk-esque builds (notably the Gasworks Park, just north of Lake Union), the home of Sepiachord (an endeavor promoting Steampunk music), and home to the Steamrats, a vibrant Steampunk community in the Puget Sound.  So making such a proclamation is not beyond the realm of reasonableness.

Gasworks Park Photo, by Dr. J. Palmer

On the other hand, many other locations in the United States (e.g. Chicago, Boston, New York, New Orleans, to name a few), and other Victorian locations around the world (e.g. cities in Australia, Continental Europe, and of course, the United Kingdom), which might beg to differ with Seattle being known as the "unofficial" capital of Steampunk.  The poll question is on the sidebar, and is a straightforward "yes" or "no", and as always, the commentary section will be open for civil discourse.


Guillaume said...

I'm not sure I see an interest in knowing where the "unofficial capital of Steampunk" is. Although the movement is strong in Seattle - and I certainly wish it were that strong in Montreal - it seems strange and somewhat unimportant to name it as leader of this or that. Steampunk is an idealistic dream born out of history and fantasy... It is timeless. It is everywhere and nowhere at once. And I like it that way... Why localize it to a single city when you can dream it in all of them?

Salzanos said...

I just finished reading "Boneshaker" by seattle artist Cherie Priest. Loved it! Using Seattle's past for a background to this topic. I visit Seattle regularly to see my two grown children. I have to say for the places I have visited in the USA, this wold be my pick to be very steampunk. I love to see a list of places to visit that have the elements of steampunk to go and see. Take pictures etc. I have always loved "steampunk" but did not know it had a name. (being almost 60) But love it I do. My dad was a inventor, built many steel ships, and other contraptions. I am going to take lots more pics on my next visit to Seattle. Love your blog BTW.

RF said...

@ Guillaume - I'm thinking that the author of the article was in essence pandering to the local population to an extent, but it does become difficult to accept one location as the "capital" (albeit titled as "unofficial" of a worldwide movement without very iron-clad support.

@ Mr. Salzanos - Thank you for the kind words, sir! As a prior resident of the Puget Sound, Seattle does have many aspects which lends itself to being in the forefront of Steampunk, especially with the impressive Gasworks Park. It will be interesting to see how the poll resolves itself.

Mattbear said...

Well, we do have the band Abney Park here. So we win.