The Chicago Harbor Commission was formed in 1908 to consider “whether any part of the Chicago lake front should be reserved for possible future harbor uses.” (p. 1). The commission’s vision of the Chicago’s lakefront as a sprawling commercial harbor stood in sharp contrast to that articulated by Burnham and Bennett. Mayor Fred Busse, who advocated the formation of the commission, objected specifically to the Plan of Chicago’s proposal to convert much of the city’s south lakeshore into lagoons and parkland, for it would effectively eliminate the possibility of building modern port facilities on the lake. The commission hired University of Chicago economic geographer J. Paul Goode to make their case. Goode researched modern port facilities in the United States and Western Europe. He prepared this map comparing the scale of new port facilities in Antwerp, Belgium and Hamburg, Germany to the relatively meager space allotted to port facilities in the Chicago River and Calumet harbors. Not surprisingly, the commission concluded that only an entirely newly built large-scale harbor on the lakefront could ensure Chicago’s position as a major global trading center.
Wille, Lois. Forever Open, Clear, and Free: The Struggle for Chicago’s Lakefront. 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.
“Chicago with Antwerp Extension and Hamburg Freihafen,” from Report to the Mayor and Alderman of the City of Chicago by the Chicago Harbor Commission by Chicago Harbor Commission (Chicago: Press of H.G. Adair, 1909), opp. p. 158. The Newberry Library, H 69 .163