The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City is the first book to fully explore Burnham’s Plan, the defining document of American urban planning. As Smith relates, Burnham and his coauthor, Edward Bennett, were careful to leave no part of the city untouched. The Plan of Chicago called for an extensive greenbelt around Lake Michigan, recreational parks throughout the city’s limits, a streamlined transportation system, and cultural amenities like the Field Museum of Natural History. Streets were widened, bridges constructed, and even the Chicago River itself was straightened. Smith takes a closer look at Burnham as well as his contemporaries at the Commercial Club of Chicago, showing how their influence shaped the city itself. The Plan, Smith reveals, embodied their belief in the humanizing—or dehumanizing—effects of one’s environment. And at a time when everything essentially “American” was changing, The Plan suggested that human will could, in fact, change history.
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