The Burnham Plan CentennialThe Plan of Chicago A Regional Legacy


In 1909, Daniel Burnham, Edward Bennett, and the Commercial Club of Chicago launched an era of big dreams for the Chicago region and cities throughout the world with the publication of the Plan of Chicago. In 2009, the Plan’s 100th anniversary gives metropolitan Chicago an unparalleled opportunity to recapture the spirit of imagination and innovation that the Burnham Plan represents, and once again to look boldly toward its future.

The Burnham Plan Centennial is a time for our communities, leaders and institutions to act together to shape that future for the inclusion and benefit of all. To succeed in the global competition for jobs, prosperity, and quality of life for all, we must have inspiring and well-accepted plans to produce action.

This booklet is an introduction to the Plan of Chicago—the conditions that prompted it, the major recommendations, its implementation and its legacy. The purpose is to allow residents of the Chicago region to understand its ideas and impact so they can more fully enjoy the Centennial—and realize the part they can play in making the next big plans. The Commercial Club, which helped start this effort a century ago—with the support of 334 individual subscribers—plays a key role in the Centennial. The club in 1999 created the organization Chicago Metropolis 2020 to implement its recommendations for better transportation, land-use planning, housing and other critical regional issues. Chicago Metropolis 2020 in turn is providing organizational and staff support to the Centennial Committee, which is coordinating the programs of more than 250 partners. All are determined to see that the plans developed in 2009 are implemented as effectively as the Plan of Chicago.

The Plan of Chicago: A Regional Legacy
Copyright 2008, Chicago Metropolis 2020

Written and produced by Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics, May 2008
Web development by Justin Goh, Chicago CartoGraphics, November 2008

Special thanks to the Chicago History Museum and The Art Institute of Chicago for the generous use of images from their collections.