Today in History

Today in History: July 22

Alexander Calder

I think best in wire.

—Alexander Calder,
Jean Lipman, Calder's Universe (Philadelphia: Running Press, 1989), 238.

Portrait of Alexander Calder
Alexander Calder,
Carl Van Vechten, photographer,
July 10, 1947.
Creative Americans: Portraits by Carl Van Vechten, 1932-1964

Calder mobile

Calder Mobile,
Mr. and Mrs. Kloman, ¬†residence…,
Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., photographer,
September 22, 1949.
Architecture and Interior Design for 20th Century America: Photographs by Samuel Gottscho and William Schleisner, 1935-1955

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.

poster
Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind,
Alexander Calder, artist,
[between 1965 and 1980].
Prints & Photographs Online Catalog

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.

Untitled
Untitled,
unknown date,
Gift of Irving and Rose Dorfman

Model for East Building Mobile
Model for East Building Mobile,
1972,
Gift of the Collectors Committee

La Vache
La Vache,
1970,
Gift of Mrs. Paul Mellon
Alexander Calder, artist
National Gallery of Art

Cleveland, Ohio

Birds Eye View of Cleveland, Ohio, 1877.
Birds eye view of Cleveland, Ohio, 1877,
Albert Ruger, artist,
Shober & Carqueville, lithographers,
1877.
Panoramic Maps

On July 22, 1796, a party of surveyors led 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.

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 link) 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 (external link) 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
City Square,
Cleveland, Ohio,
circa 1900.
Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920

Pennsylvania R.R. Ore Docks
Pennsylvania R.R. Ore Docks,
unloading iron ore…
Cleveland, Ohio,
Jack Delano, photographer,
May 1943.
America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA-OWI, ca. 1935-1945