The Burnham Plan Centennial - Bold Plans, Big Dreams

Program Partners


The Chicago Park District is the steward of over 550 parks spanning 7300 acres of land, including 33 beaches, nine museums and two conservatories. The agency is devoted to enhancing quality of life throughout the city as the leading provider of recreation and leisure opportunities; providing safe, inviting and beautifully maintained parks and facilities; and creating a customer focused and responsive park system.  The Chicago Park District was established in 1934, when the Great Depression fostered the consolidation of 22 separate park commissions that had operated independently throughout the city for many years.

Daniel H. Burnham made important contributions to Chicago’s parks and many of his ideas were deeply influenced by his park work.  In the late 1870s, Burnham & Root began producing designs for shelters, bridges, fountains, buildings and other recreational structures for the South Park Commission. After Root’s death, D.H. Burnham & Co. continued this tradition. This included Burnham’s collaboration with the Olmsted Brothers on designing the nation’s seminal neighborhood parks on the south side of Chicago. 

Burnham helped transform Jackson Park and the Midway Plaisance into the White City for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.   This work and his ideas about Grant Park and the lakefront provided the genesis of the 1909 Plan of Chicago.  In 2009, the Chicago Park District will celebrate its 75th anniversary and will also pay tribute to the Daniel H. Burnham’s important park legacy through a number of projects and events.


Partner Category: Public Agency

Centennial Activities

Bold Plans Big Dreams Day Camps

Chicago Park District

During the 2009 summer, throughout the city, Chicago Park District day camps will educate Chicago children about Burnham’s contributions and allow them to imagine and help plan a better city.  For a PDF download of the "You Run the City: 30 Days of Bold Plans and Big Dreams click here.

Friday, August 21, 2009 noon to 12:30pm
Friday, August 21, 2009 12:30pm to 1:00pm
Friday, August 28, 2009 11:30am to Thursday, August 27, 2009 noon
Friday, August 28, 2009 noon to 12:30pm
Friday, August 28, 2009 12:30pm to 1:00pm
Friday, September 4, 2009 11:00am to 11:30am
Friday, September 4, 2009 noon to 12:30pm
Friday, September 4, 2009 12:30pm to 1:00pm

Buckingham Fountain Underground Tours

Chicago Park District

Have you ever wondered what it looks like beneath Chicago’s Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain?  This summer, Parkways Foundation and the Chicago Park District will offer a rare opportunity for the public to learn more about the city’s iconic monument through tours that include its underground pump works.  The half hour-long tours are offered every Friday at 12:00 p.m.

Saturday, August 1, 2009 10:00am to 3:00pm
Saturday, September 26, 2009 10:00am to 3:00pm

Discovering Daniel Burnham in Chicago's Parks

Chicago Park District

Discover how Chicago’s parks influenced Daniel H. Burnham, and how Burnham influenced Chicago’s parks. Park historian Julia S. Bachrach guides this tour which reveals examples of Burnham’s works spanning a period of more than 30 years. You will learn about Burnham & Root’s work in Jackson and Washington Parks, the legacy of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and subsequent redesign of Jackson Park along with Frederick Law Olmsted, the Burnham & Co.

Unity Green at Gill Park

The Elements Group

Unity Green at Gill Park is a unique modern sustainable park concept in the Uptown area of Chicago, created to promote unity and social interaction between different socio-economic, racial and cultural groups. The construction of Unity Green is expected to commence in the spring of 2009. [MORE]

Thursday, September 10, 2009 noon to 1:00pm

Visions of Green: Daniel H. Burnham and Jens Jensen’s Open Space Plans for Chicago

Chicago Park District

In the early 20th century, two visionary designers created plans for Chicago that incorporated ambitious ideas about parks and green spaces. Daniel H.

Chicago Park District

Website: http://chicagoparkdistrict.c...

Chicago Park District
541 N. Fairbanks
Chicago, IL 60611
[Get Directions]

Contact: Julia Bachrach at

The Burnham Plan Centennial
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