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An online and photo-panel exhibit created by the Newberry Library for the cnetennial of the Plan of Chicago

Jules Guerin, "Chicago. View Looking West over the City, Showing the Proposed Civic Center, the Grand Axis, Grant Park, and the Harbor," Plan of Chicago, plate LXXXVII. Chicago Historical Museum.

At the turn of the 20th century, an extraordinary generation of reformers, business leaders, architects, and city planners reimagined American cities. The visionary Plan of Chicago, published in 1909 by Chicago architects Daniel H. Burnham, Jr., and Edward H. Bennett, stood at the heart of this movement. This lavish volume addressed problems prompted by the rapid, unplanned growth of the city in the 19th century, from dirt and disorder to congestion and unsightliness. The plan's beautiful illustrations by Jules Guerin and Fernand Janin offered an alternative: elegant streets, gracious parks, and a well-oiled transportation network. Like other advocates of the City Beautiful Movement, Burnham and Bennett believed that an attractive urban environment could improve health and social relations and ensure economic prosperity. The Plan of Chicago, or the "Burnham Plan," was only partially implemented, but its sweeping vision and magnificent illustrations remain relevant and inspirational today.

The Newberry Library developed Make Big Plans: Daniel Burnham's Vision of an American Metropolis in collaboration with the Burnham Plan Centennial.

The Newberry Library gratefully acknowledges the Chicago History Museum and the Chicago Park District Special Collections for their generous contribution of images from their collections. Make Big Plans is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the Endowment's We The People initiative. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

    Make Big Plans Exhibit Sponsors

  • William G. McGowen Charitable Fund
  • Deloitte
  • Marsh Mercer Kroll

    Burnham Plan Centennial
    Founding Sponsors

  • The Chicago Community Trust and Affiliates
  • The Elizabeth Morse & Genius Charitable Trusts