The Burnham Plan Centennial - Bold Plans, Big Dreams

Calendar & Projects


Centennial Highlights

The Burnham Plan Centennial featured more than 1,000 programs designed to inspire and educate, reflecting back on the enduring legacies of the 1909 Plan of Chicago, while also looking forward to initiating bold new plans for the region in the next century.

To view the array of programs, click on these monthly calendar links [June  July   August  Sept   October Nov/Dec], scroll through the program type list in the left-hand column, click on program partners to the upper right and explore the individual programs and exhibits highlighted below.


imageApril 23, 2009

Bold Plans, Big Dreams Map Assembly

Big Shoulders Fund

The culmination of a year-long project, fifth graders from 76 Catholic schools came together at St. Barbara's Elementary School to assemble an artistic mixed-media map and create tapestry of Chicago's diverse and changing city neighborhoods. [MORE]

imageJune 13-14, 2009

Burnham to Marquette Water Trail Expedition

Northwest Indiana Paddling Association

A two-day sea kayaking event from Chicago, Illinois along the coastline to Michigan City, Indiana inaugurated the new Southern Lake Michigan Water Trail. Participants paddled along the coastline in five- to eight-mile segments, enabling others to join in and finish at various points. [MORE]

imageJune 19-20, 2009


Grant Park Music Festival

The free classical music festival in Millennium Park commissioned composer Michael Torke to create a new work for orchestra and chorus inspired by the Plan of Chicago. “Plans” made its world premiere as part of the Festival's 75th Anniversary Season and in conjunction with the grand opening of the Burnham Pavilions. [MORE]

imageJune 19-July 15, 2009

Burnham “Century in Motion” Festival

DePaul University

DePaul University invited students, alumni, family and friends to spend this historic summer in Daniel Burnham's neighborhood. The festival kicked off with a group outing to the Plans concert premiere in Millennium Park. The month-long, Burnham-themed festivities included tours, site visits and a morning tea with Daniel Burnham, Jr. [MORE]

imageSeptember 24-26, 2009

APA Upper Midwest Conference

American Planning Association – Illinois Chapter

The APA’s 2009 Upper Midwest Conference brought together 600 urban planners, architects, historic preservationists and overall Burnham enthusiasts from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin to celebrate the legacy of the 1909 Plan of Chicago.  [MORE]

imageOctober 2009

One Book One Chicago

Chicago Public Library

The library’s award-winning One Book One Chicago put together a major program of events and discussions focused on its fall book selection, The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City by Carl Smith. [MORE]

imageDecember 17, 2009

Make No Little Plans: Daniel Burnham and the American City

WTTW11 Chicago

The first full-length documentary about Daniel Burnham made its television broadcast premiere. The film explores Burnham's life and legacy and how his vision shaped the nation’s cities for generations. [MORE]

arrow Burnham Plan Centennial Committee

arrow Radio Arte

arrow Kenosha Public Library

arrow Chicago Architecture Foundation

arrow LISC/Chicago

arrow Lubeznik Center for the Arts



May 19, 2009 - Summer 2010

Deep Roots, Green Future:  City Planning in Elgin

Gail Borden Public Library District

Many principles of the Chicago Plan were used when Burnham's partner Edward Bennett formulated a plan for Elgin in 1917.  Discover his plan and others that followed including the latest Elgin plan for sustainability. [MORE]



May 1 - August 20

The Edge of Intent

Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College

This exhibit examined the utopian aspirations of urban planners, and how their idealistic visions sometimes become static and incapable of adapting to changing environments and systems. [MORE]


July 14, 2009 - May 16, 2010

Envisioning Joliet:  Burnham, Bennett, and Beyond

Joliet Area Historical Museum

This exhibit looked at Edward Bennett's 1923 Plan of Joliet for the City of Joliet's plans for new projects to continue the legacy. [MORE]


June 19 -  December 31

Make Big Plans: Daniel Burnham’s Vision of an American Metropolis

Newberry Library

The Make Big Plans exhibit was on display at more than 60 libraries throughout Chicagoland, Midway and O’Hare airports. A complementary public program series was offered at the Arlington Heights, Wheaton, Orland Park and Chesterton libraries. It is available online and as a slide show. [MORE]


May 1 - August 1

Burnham's Backyard

Glencoe Historical Society

The role of 1909 Burnham Plan and the development of the Cook County Forest Preserves' Skokie Lagoons (in Glencoe) was the focus of this exhibit. Included was information on Daniel Burnham, the Plan and the development of the Lagoons. [MORE]


October 16, 2009 - March 13, 2010

Actions: What you Can Do With the City

Graham Foundation for Advanced Study in the Fine Arts

Discover 99 actions that instigate positive change in contemporary cities around the world. Seemingly common activities such as walking, playing, recycling and gardening were pushed beyond their usual definition by the international architects, artists and collectives featured in the exhibition. [MORE]

The Burnham Plan Centennial
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