Cleveland, Ohio

On July 22, 1796, a party of surveyors commissioned by General Moses Cleaveland arrived at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, believing that an ideal location for a new town—Cleaveland, Ohio. The Connecticut Land Company had sent General Cleaveland to the Western Reserve—the northeastern region of Ohio—to speed the sale of the 3.5 million acres that the land company had reserved when Ohio was opened for settlement ten years earlier. In 1831, the Cleveland Advertiser dropped the first “a” in the city’s name to reduce the length of the newspaper’s masthead. From then on, the community was known as Cleveland.

Birds eye view of Cleveland, Ohio, 1877. Albert Ruger, artist; Shober & Carqueville, lithographers; Madison, Wis.: J.J. Stoner, 1877. Panoramic Maps. Geography & Maps Division

Located on the southern shore of Lake Erie, the town did not grow substantially until the Erie Canal was completed in 1825. The canal opened a passage to the Atlantic Ocean, making the city a major St. Lawrence Seaway port. Soon, the city became a center for commercial and industrial activity. This activity increased further in the 1840s when the railroad arrived.

Today, Cleveland External continues to have a highly diversified manufacturing base although the economy has shifted towards health care and financial services. With the opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and other attractions—including various museums, boating on Lake Erie, and a wide variety of entertainment options, Cleveland also has become a tourist destination.

City Square, Cleveland. ca. 1900. Detroit Publishing Company. Prints & Photographs Division
Pennsylvania R.R.[Railroad] Ore Docks,… Cleveland, Ohio. Jack Delano, photographer, May 1943. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Color Photographs. Prints & Photographs Division

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Alexander Calder

Sculptor Alexander Calder, best known for his mobiles and innovative wire structures, was born on July 22, 1898 in Pennsylvania. Although his mother was an accomplished painter and his father an accomplished sculptor, the younger Calder began his career as an engineer. He earned a degree in mechanical engineering in 1919 and held several jobs in that field before he began taking art classes at the Art Students League in New York City in 1923.

I think best in wire.

Alexander Calder. In Calder’s Universe, by Jean Lipman. (New York: Viking Press in cooperation with the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1976)

[Portrait of Alexander Calder]. Carl Van Vechten, photographer, July 10, 1947. Van Vechten Collection. Prints & Photographs Division
Close View of Calder Sculpture, Installed Just North of the Japanese Garden in 1981 – Missouri Botanical Garden… Jet Lowe, photographer, April 1983. From Missouri Botanical Garden, 2345 Tower Grove Avenue, Saint Louis, Independent City, MO. In Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey. Prints & Photographs Division
Sculpture “Flamingo” at Federal Center Plaza, John C. Kluczynski Federal Building, Chicago, Illinois. Carol Highsmith, photographer, 2007. Highsmith (Carol M.) Archive. Prints & Photographs Division

Calder subsequently ventured into commercial illustration, covering prize-fights and the circus for the National Police Gazette. He then traveled to Paris, where he began experimenting with sculpture. The artist made his first motor-driven sculptures, which were later dubbed “mobiles,” in the winter of 1931-32.

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  • Calder is one of a number of artists and sculptors featured in the Van Vechten Collection. Browse the Occupational Index to locate other portraits of individuals who were prominent in the arts during the first half of the twentieth century.
  • To find images of artists, their studios, and their work in the Library’s pictorial collections, try searching on subject headings such as: Art Education, Art Exhibitions, Art Gallery, Artists’ studios, and Artists.