Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Look Back at Chicago History--May 16, 1911

Found on the pages of The Chicago Tribune, on this date in 1911 this was taking place . . .

The DuSable Bridge, designed by EdwardH. Bennett was a direct result of theChicago Plan of 1909 (JWB, 2009)
No exhibit at the City Planning Exhibition, taking place in Philadelphia, attracted more attention than the Commercial Club of Chicago’s Chicago Plan of 1909.  This was the third national conference of city planning, and the exhibits were displayed in Philadelphia’s City Hall. 

According to The Tribune, the plan “is recognized as being the perfection of city planning and quite naturally is sought out first by those intent upon studying city planning in all its varied phases.”

Also a part of the Chicago exhibit were presentations from the Lincoln Park and South Park commissions, including plans for playgrounds and the suggested treatment for Grand Boulevard, a design that was prepared by the Olmsted Brothers in 1908.

Speakers lined up for this day’s events included Irving K. Pond of Chicago, the President of the American Institute of Architects.  (He would have been an appropriate choice at the conference; the Pond Brothers had five years or so earlier designed much of Jane Adams’s Hull House). 

The Santa Fe Building, at the corner of Michigan & Jackson, where the ChicagoPlan of 1909 was written (JWB, 2008)
Delegates from Chicago Included Edward H. Bennett, co-author of the Chicago Plan and future designer of Buckingham Fountain and the DuSable Bridge that carries Michigan Avenue across the river and Ossian C. Simonds who began his career with William LeBaron Jenney, formed a practice with William Holabird and Martin Roche and was responsible for the landscape design of Chicago’s beautiful Graceland Cemetery, among many other landscape projects.

Of course, the Chicago Plan of 1909, also known as the Burnham Plan, was one of the first great efforts in this country at city planning.  It still impacts the city today.  In the far-reaching plan Burnham and Bennett look toward (1) the improvement of the lakefront; (2) a regional highway system; (3) improvement of railway terminals and facilities; (4) new outer parks; (5) a more systematic arrangement of streets; and (6) the planning for civic and cultural centers.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the plan was the single-most important document in the development of Chicago.

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