Under the curtain of night, the reflections of endless skyscrapers in the tranquil river are glittering just like stars. This picture fully represents the prosperity of Chicago. However, around one hundred years before, because of the terrible city planning, the city of Chicago was overburdened by increased population growth. The quality of life was reduced by unruly city management. Carl Smith introduced status of Chicago in 19th, “Much of the cityscape was filthy and ugly, smoke pollution and faulty sanitation were unpleasant and unhealthy hazards, freight and passenger movement through the downtown was slow and inconvenient, a wide swath of railroad tracks isolated much of the city south of the river (including its commercial center) from the lakefront, and many streets were unpaved. A large number of working people lived amid marginal and sometimes desperate circumstances, so that eruptions of class antagonism and labor violence, though always unwelcome, were rarely unexpected.” (Smith) In order to improve the quality of public life and stimulate the economic development, the government decided to perform a collection of reformations in Chicago.
In 1906, The Plan of Chicago, also known as “Burnham Plan” was introduced to the world. There are generally six categories:
- The improvement of the lake front.
- The creation of a system of highways outside the city.
- The improvement of railway terminals, and the development of a complete traction system for both freight and passengers.
- The acquisition of an outer park system, and of parkway circuits.
- The systematic arrangement of the streets and avenues within the city, in order to facilitate the movement to and from the business district.
- The development of centers of intellectual life and of civic administration, so related as to give coherence and unity to the city.
The plan efficiently reformed the highway system in Chicago. Harold C. Barnett introduced “The Plan’s key recommendations were to improve the Lake front, relocate railway terminals to redirect the flow of freight and passenger traffic, develop a system of highways outside the city, create parkway circuits and systematically arrange streets and avenues within the city to facilitate movement to and from the business district, and develop centers of intellectual life and civic administration to give coherence and unity to the city.” (Barnett) Furthermore, the plan effectively widened Michigan Avenue and connected it with several streets around.
Because of more convenient transportation system, residents would not need to worry about being late for school and work. Also, Chicago grabbed attentions from more entrepreneurs to build companies and input money in developing the city. Furthermore, following the existence of widened streets, it becomes safer for pedestrians to walk on the street. In conclusion, The Plan of Chicago provided residents there with a more modern, economically-friendly city. As the first city plan of Chicago, this plan became a model for city plans in the following years.
Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning. 10th ed. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.