Steampunk Saturday details

Pulp-less Fiction: Digital Downloads

This blog is about new paperless reading materials like downloadable audio books, ebooks, and online magazines, made available to you through the Appleton Public Library. I plan to provide helpful tips on using these new products, along with reviews of audio books, music on cd, and movies on DVD and Blu-ray.  The library is changing as rapidly as your access to media and the Internet. We want to keep on top of the trends and bring you information and entertainment in a way that fits your life today.   -Beth

Steampunk couple
  • What is Steampunk? Steampunk is a style based on literature and culture from the Victorian era in Britain, particularly the late 1800s.  It uses the manners, designs and fashions of that period applied to different places and times.  It often has a fantasy or science fiction element, including time travel and fantastical inventions.  Modern items of technology, for example, can be re-imagined as they might have looked in Victorian times.  It has aesthetic, artistic and cultural values, and can become a lifestyle for some. Examples from mainstream culture that have a Steampunk facet  are films like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Sherlock Holmes:  a Game of Shadows, or books such as Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker, and Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan. 
  • What is the timetable?  The library program begins at 10:00 in rooms A/B/C with an introduction by the MC.  Then our speaker will describe the history of Steampunk.  Next comes the costume contest--the time will depend on how many entrants there are.  After prizes are awarded, the MC will explain the other events which will take place simultaneously:  How to create costumes; make a Steampunk firefly lantern; create a hair fascinator clip, ribbon and medal, or papercrafts; make your own mustache monocle; get a Victorian-style photo taken; or participate in the games demo).  When the program ends at 2:00, participants may proceed in a Steampunk stroll to the History Museum at the Castle.
  • Can you tell me about the exhibit at the History Museum at the Castle?  Machines in Motion is a fabulous exhibit:  40 operational, actual-size working machine replicas of Leonardo da Vinci’s amazing machines.  "Highlights include a revolving crane, a full-size armored tank large enough for several visitors to explore from the inside, a working robot, and four flying machines. Other da Vinci displays include the hydraulic water saw, the pillar lifter, floats for walking on water, the parachute and the machine gun." 
  • How is the Steampunk program related to the Leonardo da Vinci Machines in Motion exhibit?  Leonardo was an engineering genius and created many incredible mechanical devices.  Many Victorian-era people were interested in the past as well as new scientific creations.  Today Steampunk provides a link to history and science when creating retro-futuristic devices.  There also is an overlap between Makers (those who handmake things rather than buy mass-produced products, and who invent new methods and devices) and Steampunk.
  • What ages should come to the program?  It is designed as a family program, for all ages; though it will be most interesting for those in grade school and up.
  • Do I need to dress up?  You are welcome to come in street clothes or dress to the nines in Victorian or Steampunk style clothing.  You will be able to make small accessories such as a hair clip or pin to add some Steampunk style.  Remember, we will have a Victorian Photo shoot, with an area for you to pose in a Steampunk vignette.  We will email your Victorian-style picture to you after the event.  A sample will be available to view at the event.
  • Will I be able to show my style in a Costume Contest?  Indeed, there is a contest—those brave souls who arrive in costume may sign up at the door to enter.  There will be two categories:  one for newcomers and the other for the practiced Steampunk attendees.  There will be a fabulous prize for each category!
  • What kind of games? One of the authors of the Brass and Steel game book will present a live demo of this role playing game.  There may also be board games.  Gaming will take place in the library’s Meeting Room D, after the costume contest.  A limited number of books will be available for purchase.
  • Which crafts are offered?  Create a Mustache Monocle, decorate tags and cards in Victorian style, or design a pin, clip, or ribbon with a medal to wear.  If you bring your own hat you can decorate it.
  • How about gadgets or gizmos?  We will be creating Steampunk Firefly Lanterns, but limited number of kits will be available—sign up at the event.
  • Where should I go?  The Appleton Public Library (225 North Oneida Street, Appleton) has meeting rooms on the lower level, and our Steampunk Saturday events will fill them all!  When you arrive, get your pass and fill it out, then drop it in a jar for your favorite door prize.  Sign up for the costume contest if you wish, then have a seat and listen to our guest speaker to learn about Steampunk history.
  • What other Steampunk-related places are there in the Fox Cities? 

 City Park Historic District

The area surrounding Appleton’s City Park (oldest park in the city) contains several houses that date from the Victorian period. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

Nearby is the Temple Zion and School, 1883-84, also on the National Register.

Fox River Locks

History of the Locks:

Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini was born Ehrich Weiss on March 24, 1874 in Budapest, Hungary. His family moved to Appleton when he was a toddler, as his father Mayer Samuel Weiss, had obtained a post as Appleton’s first rabbi.

Harry had fond memories of the town, and claimed to have been born in Appleton.

His family later moved to Milwaukee, then New York City, before he became famous as a magician and escape

artist. The “a.k.a. Houdini” exhibit at the History Museum at the Castle illustrates his life and career.

History Museum at the Castle

The History Museum building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was originally

a Masonic temple, built in 1923 in the Norman Revival style with stone and wooden beams that give

the impression of a medieval castle. Today’s museum provides exhibits on many topics, including Appleton history since the 1840s, and local celebrities such as Harry Houdini, Edna Ferber, and Joseph McCarthy.


Hearthstone House Museum

Hearthstone is the first private home in the nation to be lit with an Edison central hydroelectric power station, on September 30, 1882. The Appleton power station provided incandescent light to the Henry J. Rogers home (now Hearthstone Museum), the Appleton Paper and Pulp Company and Kimberly & Clark's Vulcan Paper Mill.

Lawrence University was endowed in 1847 and classes began in November, 1849. The Main Hall was constructed in 1853. The Chapel, used for musical performances, was built in 1917. Lawrence is known for the excellence of its Conservatory of Music, and for the Great Midwest Trivia Contest, an annual contest held since 1966.

Old Third Ward, Appleton  

This area includes the West Prospect Historic district. Their website includes history of the area, locations of historic buildings, and links to other helpful sites.

Vulcan Heritage Waterfront Park

On September 30, 1882 the world's first hydroelectric central station began operation near this site.

Known as the Vulcan Street Plant, it had a direct current generator

that operated at 110 volts and was driven by a water wheel.

The plaque is in Vulcan Heritage Waterfront Park, on W. Water St. in Appleton, Wisconsin.

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