The Burnham Plan Centennial - Bold Plans, Big Dreams

About the Centennial

Bold New Plans

The Burnham Plan Centennial was a moment-in-time opportunity to develop Bold New Plans for a sustainable future in terms of transportation, water, energy and quality-of-life issues.

Planning together as a region

To prepare ourselves for the future, this region needs to be as bold as Daniel Burnham. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) is creating a comprehensive plan for northeastern Illinois which will build on the momentum of the Burnham Plan Centennial in order to lead the region to a prosperous future.

The document, called GO TO 2040, will be the first to integrate planning and policies covering:

  • The use of land
  • The treatment of the environment
  • The movement of people and goods
  • The quality of life of the region's eight million residents

Created with input from regional residents at "Invent the Future" workshops held throughout the summer of 2009, GO TO 2040 will provide a key framework for decision-making by multiple levels of local government as well as by the private sector.

In order to move toward a healthy future for the region, we need to agree to work together. We need to agree to think beyond boundaries. We need to pledge to refine the plan, improve it, polish it—and then implement it.

The Burnham Plan has made the Chicago region what it is today because it was given widespread support for decades. CMAP and its GO TO 2040 plan will do the same—if our generation makes the same commitment.

Transportation for a 21st Century Economy

We must have an economy-building plan for transportation so that our region and our state can thrive. Otherwise, we will find ourselves left behind in the global competition of the 21st century.

Chicago Metropolis 2020 worked throughout the centennial to produce a new way for the State of Illinois to plan and pay for transportation infrastructure: not in the current haphazard way of building projects for short-term jobs but according to strategic plans designed to support and build the economy and sustained employment.

Illinois has grown into an urban state with the majority of its population, jobs, income, taxes and gross product located in its 11 metropolitan areas. So it has become more important than ever to combine the brain power of these cities into a tightly knit economic network. The Metropolis plan explains that the way to do this is through:

  • Doing everything necessary to double transit ridership
  • Prioritizing road building according to long-term employment goals
  • Connecting Illinois' knowledge-economy metropolises with convenient, frequent and reliable rail service, coordinated by a state (freight and passenger) rail authority
  • Providing high-speed digital telecommunications statewide for universal access to the global knowledge base
  • Financing transportation infrastructure more realistically and moving toward revenue based on vehicle miles traveled

For Illinois to succeed, we need to move people and goods with a system that is more efficient, more focused, better integrated, more cost-effective and greener.

Chicago Metropolis 2020's breakthrough document in transportation planning was funded as a Burnham Plan Centennial project by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and will be available on-line at



The Centennial inspired our region’s communities, leaders and institutions to act boldly together to make our region one of the world’s best places to live and work.


For articles about the Centennial's future-focused initiatives, view the Future category of the Burnham Blog found here.


Burnham Pavilions

Click for Regional Transportation

Architectural exhibits in Millennium Park designed by London-based Zaha Hadid and Amsterdam-based Ben van Berkel of UNStudio emphasized the importance of boldly imagining a better future for all.

Click for Burnham 2.0 program descriptionBig. Bold. Visionary.

In this exhibit, Chicago architects, planners and landscape architects consider the next century with their visions of the city of the future.

Click for Go To 2040 Community Conversations program descriptionInvent the Future with GO TO 2040

To coincide with the Burnham Plan Centennial, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning's GO TO 2040 campaign is making it easy for you to have your say about regional investments and policies. In this new Invent the Future public-input phase, you can:

  • Use CMAP's MetroQuest GO TO 2040 web tools to create your own growth scenarios and compare them to CMAP's.
  • Attend one of 50 GO TO 2040 "Invent the Future" workshops that CMAP will hold with partners across the seven counties.
  • Visit one of the interactive GO TO 2040 kiosks at dozens of locations including Millennium Park, Metra stations, libraries, festivals and other sites around the region.

The Burnham Plan Centennial
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30 West Monroe Street, 18th Floor Chicago, Illinois 60603 • (312)332-2020

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