Wednesday, December 26, 2007
The Bicycle Messenger
Edward Steichen is known as "photography's greatest artist".He was born in Luxembourg. In 1881, when he was 2 years old, his family emigrated to Wisconsin. He grew up in Milwaukee and he never lost his slight Milwaukee accent (an accent best described as the end result of a multi-lingual car crash somewhere in east Europe involving American tourists). During his long career, he mastered and innovated many styles of photography and even won an Academy award for his World War II documentary film, "The Fighting Lady". He was and still is, 35 years after his death at age 94, the highest paid photographer in the world. He always had an ability to balance art and commerce, and unlike the cliched politics of most "artists",was fiercely patriotic and put his life on the line in two world wars to prove it. You all know him.... He shot the often reprinted 1905 photograph of the Flat Iron Building in New York City,many iconic portraits (Garbo, Gershwin and Paul Robeson for Life Magazine)and so much more. What you may not know is that as a teenager living in Milwaukee, Edward Steichen was the City's first bicycle messenger. That's right, he raced through the congested streets of the machining (and machine) capital of the United States of America, narrowly avoiding pedestrians, horse drawn carriages and an occasional automobile. It was his idea and his employer, Western Union, loved it. By the turn of the century, bicycle messengers were a mainstay in every major city in America.
Ozaukee County was ground zero for the Luxembourg influx into the Badger state.
Another great Wisconsinite of Luxembourgian descent is basketball coaching legend Rick Majerus. the Luxembourg/American Cultural Society is in Port Washington, Wisconsin(click here).