The American Worker, The Public Art, And The Cleveland Fed

The entrance to the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank

I was up in Cleveland yesterday and walked past the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, which was built in 1922.  It features a large, black, metal statue of what appears to be a seated worker, muscles bulging and torso bared, holding a large hammer.  (I say appears to be a worker because it could be a representation of Prometheus, or for that matter Thor.)

I like this kind of public art, which is ubiquitous in American cities that were built up in the ’20s and ’30s.  Often the sculpture is in the style of Soviet Realism or totalitarian art, with stocky, thickly muscled workers striding forward or performing various acts of manual labor. There’s almost always a stern eagle nearby, too.  It is interesting, and seemingly a bit incongruous, to see that kind of art in front of the Cleveland Fed.  Perhaps recognizing the irony, on this day a passing pigeon had strategically left a large deposit on the worker’s head.

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