Good Morning Chicago! Today’s hot topic will be about the history of Chicago’s redevelopment. Chicago has always had issues with its population growth. However, many do not know that Chicago of the early twentieth century looked a lot different than the Chicago we all see today.
For example, The 1909 Plan of Chicago is the start of modern city planning in America. It is otherwise known as the Burnham Plan, named after Daniel Burnham. Furthermore Burnham enlisted help from Edward H. Bennet a co-author of the plan of chicago. In 1906, a group of wealthy businessmen reached out to Burnham in order to reconcile the city’s growth in population. Daniel Burnham earned his right to make a large comprehensive plan for the city because of his participation in the Columbian Exposition of 1893 which was the start of the City Beautiful Movement. The Movement alone helped to justify architectural improvements and monumental changes to cities that last until today in American history. The 1909 Plan of Chicago was created around this monumental time because it sought out to beautify Chicago and make commerce more efficient.
Both Burnham and Bennet researched the lifestyles of Chicagoans by globally studying how transportation (mobility), and socioeconomic shifts affected not only the city’s businesses but its citizens. More importantly, the two focused on the lakeshore, highways, railroads (railways), diagonal streets in and out of the city, and civic buildings. Here’s a look at their plan:
Although the plan was not implemented immediately, Burnham and Bennet’s plan was world renowned and city planning has been changed ever since. The streets and boulevards of Chicago are diagonal and wider from the civic center plaza and buildings which took decades to establish and complete. This design reduces traffic and increases money the city can make off of toll roads or highways. In retrospect, why did Bennet and Burnham decide on diagonal roads instead of a grid system similar to Manhattan, another bumbling city full of wealthy New Yorkers, businessmen, and high tourist traffic. Anyways, the most essential part of the plan was the city’s 25 miles of lakefront to be used as a public park. Burnham and Bennett wrote in the closing of their plan that, “If, therefore, the plan is a good one, its adoption and realization will produce for us conditions in which business enterprises can be carried on with the utmost economy.” Even though much of their plan was not utilized to its fullest capabilities, modern day Chicago is established due to their hard work as urban planners. For example, downtown Chicago has many hip restaurants and businesses along the lakeshore. Public transportation has improved drastically. Historically, Burnham and Bennet live up to their names as the grand co-authors of the 1909 Plan of Chicago.