Burnham's great, great grandson helps plan Chicago

June 24, 2009 3:39:47 PM PDT
Architect Daniel Burnham died in 1912, but his great, great grandson continues to carry out The Chicago Plan. Burnham is the man who saved the lakefront for the people of Chicago. What we see today probably wouldn't exist if Burnham hadn't written his book "The Chicago Plan," in 1909. In the book he explained how the lakefront must be saved for all time. It must be open and free.

"I think it would look completely different. I think you would have significant industrial activity along the lake and then pockets of big residential homes that would use the lakefront. But it certainly wouldn't be this open to the public, open to our residents kind of a park system that makes Chicago great today," said Randy Blankenhorn, Exec. Dir. CMAP.

Blankenhorn works for Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. Just as Burnham helped Chicago plan for the 20th Century, CMAP is looking at the 21st- to the year 2040. This summer, one of their interns-- Daniel Hudson Burnham the Fifth -- is looking forward- and back.

"My great, great grandfather was Daniel Burnham the architect who did the 1909 plan of Chicago and the 1893 Colombian Exposition," said Burnham V.

Burnham V is a senior at Indiana University. For three months he will work at CMAP on the city's next 30 years. Just like his great, great grandfather did.

"You're not going to find anything like you have here in Chicago," said Daniel Burnham V.

So this year we celebrate what Daniel Burnham did 100 years ago in 1909. Now we have met Daniel Burnham the fifth. But what about the Daniel Burnhams II, III and IV?

"My great grandfather was a planner here in Chicago and lived in Evanston. My grandfather was a banker at the Federal Reserve here in Chicago as well. And my father is a horticulturist," said Daniel Burnham V.

Daniel the V will not follow in any of those footsteps. He plans a journalism career. But maybe another walk along our lakefront will change his mind.


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