About This Site

Make Big Plans was conceived during the 2009 Burnham Centennial celebrating the lasting influence of the Plan of Chicago. Our primary goals was to place the extraordinary visual components of the plan within the wider stream of American visual culture.  Conversely, we also explore how drawings, prints, views, maps, photographs, book illustrations, advertisements, and other genres of graphic arts influenced in turn the way American cities were both imagined and lived, both manipulated and planned.

In addition to examining the visual components of the Plan, each section of this website considers the visions of American and European cities that preceded or influenced Burnham, Bennett, and their contemporaries.  And each section includes images of twentieth-century American metropolitan geography and culture that followed from, challenged, or contradicted the Plan. Much of this web resource concentrates on Chicago and its hinterland.  It also ranges more widely, acknowledging that Daniel Burnham’s vision of an American metropolis was never exclusively focused exclusively on his adopted home.

Development of Make Big Plans was supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the Endowment's We The People initiative. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this web resource do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.