The Plan of Chicago
Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City
Arguably the most influential document in the history of urban planning, Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan of Chicago, coauthored by Edward Bennett and produced in collaboration with the Commercial Club of Chicago, proposed many of the city’s most distinctive features, including its lakefront parks and roadways, the Magnificent Mile, and Navy Pier. Carl Smith’s fascinating history reveals the Plan’s central role in shaping the ways people envision the cityscape and urban life itself.
Smith’s concise and accessible narrative begins with a survey of Chicago’s stunning rise from a tiny frontier settlement to the nation’s second-largest city. He then offers an illuminating exploration of the Plan’s creation and reveals how it embodies the renowned architect’s belief that cities can and must be remade for the better. The Plan defined the City Beautiful movement and was the first comprehensive attempt to reimagine a major American city. Smith points out the ways the Plan continues to influence debates, even a century after its publication, about how to create a vibrant and habitable urban environment.
Richly illustrated and incisively written, his insightful book will be indispensable to our understanding of Chicago, Daniel Burnham, and the emergence of the modern city.
List of Illustrations
1. Planning Before the Plan
2. Antecedents and Inspirations
3. The City the Planners Saw
4. The Plan Comes Together
5. Creating the Plan
6. Reading the Plan
“Carl Smith breathes inspired new life into Daniel Burnham, the major figure behind the 1909 Plan of Chicago. Smith vividly describes both the thoughtful conceptualization and the masterful showmanship of Burnham and his many collaborators in the Plan development. Smith shows that this is a plan that reshaped American notions of the modern city.”
“Carl Smith’s The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City is a triumph of meticulous research, clear organization, and accessible writing. In his hands the story of the Plan, the campaign to promote it, and its influence on generations of Chicagoans come alive.” —Robert Bruegmann, University of Illinois at Chicago, author of Sprawl: A Compact History
“Fascinating. . . . One comes away from this finely written book with the conviction that Burnham is arguably not only the most influential person in Chicago’s history—but also America’s most successful architect and visionary urban planner. . . . The Plan of Chicago tells one of the great American urban stories.”
Society for American City & Regional Planning History: Lewis Mumford Prize