The Burnham Plan Centennial - Bold Plans, Big Dreams

Program Partners


Openlands is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region to ensure cleaner air and water, protect natural habitats and wildlife, and help balance and enrich our lives. Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, greenway corridors, and urban gardens.

Openlands is taking the lead in identifying open space legacy projects throughout the region which build on the principles and the vision of the 1909 Plan of Chicago. While many of these projects are long-term and may not reach completion for years to come, each of them will be reaching a significant milestone during the Centennial celebration.

Partner Category: Civic and Non-Profit Organization

Centennial Activities

Green Legacy Projects

Our region’s communities are connected through a network of open spaces and natural areas in what is called the green infrastructure. The Burnham Plan Centennial Committee, with the nonprofit organization Openlands, identified 21 Green Legacy Projects to close critical gaps in this infrastructure and continue to expand the green vision of the Plan of Chicago, realizing Burnham’s vision for a region-wide system of parks and open space. [MORE]

Burnham Greenway Gap

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Of all the Green Legacy projects, perhaps none could be more productive in bringing together unconnected green infrastructure than closing the Burnham Greenway gap—the missing link in a crossroads of several trails of regional, state and national significance. This keystone location of strategic importance is a two-mile gap in the 11-mile Burnham Greenway, a former railroad right-of-way linking Chicago to Lansing. Closing the Burnham Greenway gap is a major Green Legacy goal and creates a hub tying together hundreds of miles of local, state and inter-state trails. [MORE]

Friday, September 25, 2009 10:30am to 12:30pm

Englewood Remaking America!


Be part of this history-making unveiling. In the Centennial of Daniel Burnham's Plan of Chicago, Englewood is planning for the 21st century and making No Small Plans.
Greater Englewood residents and stakeholders who believe in a new green economy for this community are invited to the debut of a Vision for Open Space that includes: the New ERA Trail, Community Parks and Gardens & Green Business Development. Refreshments provided.

Englewood Open Space Plan and New E.R.A. Trail


A community-wide planning process at the grassroots level in Chicago’s south side Englewood neighborhood has undertaken a comprehensive plan to combine public open space amenities with green development. This multi-objective initiative is an outstanding example of the Centennial’s Green Legacy Projects because it expands neighborhood green space, adds to the region’s trail system and uses green infrastructure to renew a neighborhood’s environment and spirit. [MORE]

Hack-ma-tack National Wildlife Refuge


Creating a new national wildlife refuge of up to 10,000 acres spanning the Illinois-Wisconsin state line in the rapidly developing northwest part of the metropolitan area would dramatically advance the Green Legacy goal of preserving regionally significant open space. This bi-state area is home to a dramatic glacial landscape and to an extraordinary collection of diverse aquatic and terrestrial communities.

Sunday, June 14, 2009 10:00am to 2:00pm

Little Calumet River/Northeastern Illinois Water Trails Celebration


Completion of 500 miles of water trails will be celebrated with a day of paddling fun and festivities along the Little Calumet River, in Gouwens Park, in South Holland, Illinois. Northeastern Illinois Regional Water Trail were developed jointly by Openlands, the Northeastern Illinois Planning Council (NIPC), and the Illinois Paddling Council (IPC). The trail establishes launch sites and signage for non-motorized boating on ten area waterways and is the culmination of more than a decade of work. [MORE]

Midewin Tallgrass Prairie: Requests for Prairie Learning Center Designs

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

The Burnham Centennial provides the context and a timely opportunity to seek out new and innovative ideas for making the tremendous resources of the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie available to the diverse Chicago community in ways that enhance both our natural environment and the region’s quality of life. Chicago professionals have the opportunity to design a Burnham Plan Centennial at Midewin in southwestern Will County. The project consists of two separate but integrated open-air, visitor/education areas. [MORE]

Northeastern Illinois Regional Water Trails Plan


The Centennial year commemorates the completion of nearly 90 percent of the 500-mile Northeastern Illinois Regional Water Trails Plan. The Plan was developed by Openlands, Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission (NIPC), Illinois Paddling Council and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. It was adopted by NIPC in 1999.

Openlands Lakeshore Preserve


The Openlands Lakeshore Preserve on Lake Michigan at the former Fort Sheridan in Highland Park opened to the public for the first time in a century in September 2009. Because Illinois has only 60 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, adding a 3/4 mile long ravine and a mile of undeveloped lake bluffs and shoreline—both with spectacular views—is a major milestone for our region’s permanent green infrastructure. When completed, the Preserve will provide access via a bluff trail for hiking, biking and wheelchair access, a shoreline walk and a ravine trail. [MORE]



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The Burnham Plan Centennial
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