By Kara Morrison
“Plan to Make Chicago the Wonder City of the World,” Inter Ocean, July 4, 1909. Courtesy of Newspapers.com
On this day in 1909, The Plan of Chicago, by Daniel Burnham and Edward H. Bennett, was presented to the city of Chicago. Often referred to as the “Burnham Plan of Chicago,” the plan proposed a series of projects intended to improve the city’s layout, commerce, as well as the daily life of the people of Chicago. At the time the plan was created, Chicago was one of the fastest growing cities in the world and many recognized the need for a plan for a city growing at such a rapid rate. In 1906, a group of businessmen appointed renowned architect Daniel Burnham to create such plans for the city. This group of businessmen soon formed the Commercial Club of Chicago and published the Burnham Plan of Chicago just a few years later. Burnham hired another architect and planner, Edward H. Bennett, to assist him in researching and developing the project. They studied various cities throughout the world and observed how the infrastructure of similarly growing cities impacted their economies and communities. The plan as presented to the Chicago City council in 1909 included numerous illustrations and six central elements to address in order to improve the city of Chicago. Select parts of the plans were implemented in the next few years, such as the widening of Chicago streets and the area reserved for a public park on Chicago’s lakeshore. While not all of the Burnham Plan was implemented it had a major impact on Chicago and the future of urban planning and remains a reference for city planners today.
An illustration from the Plan of Chicago, courtesy of the Chicago Public Library, Plan of Chicago Special Collections
Kara Morrison is a recent graduate of Kenyon College and a contributor to the Turnstone Strategies blog. She is passionate about making historical and educational information accessible to the public.
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