This small but remarkable map proposing the construction of a road connecting Chicago to towns on either side of Lake Michigan was inserted into a section of the Plan of Chicago that elucidates Chicago’s geographical and economic position as “the metropolis of the middle west.” Some pages later Burnham and Bennett remark obliquely on the map, underscoring the importance of collaboration between the states fronting on Lake Michigan in the development and preservation of the lakeshore as an amenity for the region. Presumably, a road leading as far as Green Bay in Wisconsin and Traverse City in Michigan would be a key part of this plan. The automobile would now make communication between the lakefront cities by roads more practical. This is yet another instance in which it was apparent that Burnham and Bennett saw both the lake and roadways as aesthetic and recreational amenities. The coming of the automobile, whatever its practical implications for communication within the metropolis, was also as an argument for the development of parkland both within and beyond the metropolis. The limitations of this view of the automobile’s potential place in twentieth century life are also apparent. The map’s proposal of an encircling lake highway was ambitious for its time, but it would be dwarfed by comparison with the transcontinental road networks proposed and mapped by automobile and highway advocates less than a decade later.
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“Chicago, and Diagram of Lake Michigan. Proposed Roadway to Connect All the Towns along the Shores of the Lake,” from Plan of Chicago (Chicago: The Commercial Club, 1909), pl. XXXV. The Newberry Library, Case folio W 999 .182