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. Carl Smith’s fascinating history reveals the Plan’s central role in shaping the ways people envision the cityscape and urban life itself.
His 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. 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, this insightful book will be indispensable to our understanding of Chicago, Burnham, and the emergence of the modern city.
“An imaginative, beautifully produced, and visually appealing masterpiece of stirring prose and stunning illustration. . . . Carl Smith’s book is a concise, splendidly accessible, and beautifully constructed introduction to a seminal work of American urban planning and its enduring influence on Chicago and other American cities.”—William Bryk, New York Sun
“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.”—James Schmiechen, Michigan Historical Review