Review: Smith, The Plan of Chicago

November 28, 2006
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In 1909 Daniel Burnham authored The Plan of Chicago—a work that would prove to be one of the most important and influential documents in the history of urban planning. A lavish tome that re-imagined not only Chicago but urban space generally, it included proposals for many of Chicago’s lakefront parks and roadways, the Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier, and other distinctive features of the city. But what lead up to its creation, and what were the factors influencing Burnham’s revolutionary ideas? Enter Carl Smith’s new book The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City. As noted by a recent review in the November 24 New York Sun Carl Smith’s new book is “a concise, splendidly accessible, and beautifully constructed introduction to [this] seminal work of American urban planning and its enduring influence on Chicago and other American cities.”
Praising Smith’s incisive take on Burnham’s work the review continues: “[Smith] writes particularly well, without padding or academic jargon, and admirable self-restraint: He tells us just enough about the men and the times that created The Plan of Chicago to make us want to learn more on our own. One can offer no higher praise for a writer.”
Illuminating the complex issues influencing the masterpiece of urban planning that was Burnham’s Plan, Carl Smith’s The Plan of Chicago is an indispensable contribution to our understanding of Chicago, Daniel Burnham, and the emergence of the modern city.

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