Daniel Burnham was claimed to be the father of the City Beautiful Movement. The main purpose of this movement was to bring beautification and grandeur into American cities. The 3 main objectives of this movement were open space, centralized service and monumentality. Burnhams first example of the City Beautiful Movement was in the city of Chicago. The Plan of Chicago helped develop the American planning tradition back in the early 1900’s.
I think the best example of the City Beautiful Movement though was in the city of Washington D.C. Pierre Charles L’Enfant was the person who was the designer of Washington. L’Enfant had a distinct plan for the design of the city. Originally the land was marsh but then it was all cut down and filled to be at a flat elevation. The entire city was in a grid type pattern which also had large avenues. There was also axial paths which were inspired by Baroque axis.
L’enfant also inspired the McMillian Plan to form, which was another form of the City Beautiful movement. It helped create the National Mall and the Lincoln Memorial. The philosophy behind all of these designs was that the buildings were more neo classical and the garden designs were more Baroque. Andrew Downing also contributed to the design of Washington by creating Washington Mall. Downings design had a lot of open lawn space which was thought of as a very American idea. This space was also public and thought of being more like a museum. It was a natural style of landscaping and was thought of as an “ornament” of the capital.
The entire design of Washington D.C. was very American all around. The City Beautiful Movement had a large effect on L’Enfants design of the country’s capital. Even though, currently we wouldn’t think it was a failure it actually was. One reason being because it was extremely costly, it was very expensive to build and maintain the city. Also, the actual style was too classic which wasn’t liked by many especially with the democratic ideals. Lastly, many slums and other housing was destroyed because of all the projects.