Daniel Burnham Historian on Promotion of the Plan of Chicago

June 29, 2009

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Daniel Burnham's Plan of Chicago was commissioned by the city's business elite in 1909, but despite their political and economic power, even the elite needed to convince common voters to agree to the multi-million bond issues to pay for the proposed city improvements. At that time and well into the 20th century, Chicago voters, not the city council, had final say over large bond issues. Here, Dr. Carl Smith of Northwestern University explains how the plan was rewritten and repackaged for different audiences, and how one version even made it into Chicago's public school system.