The Avenue du Bois de Boulogne, Looking Towards the Arc de Triomphe (1909)

The Plan of Chicago’s designs for wide and landscaped boulevards and avenues that radiated from and highlighted civic monuments followed a trend in city planning dating back to the Baroque era. The similarities to L’Enfant’s plan of Washington, which Burnham had reinvigorated at the behest of the Senate a decade before are especially striking. Burnham had developed similar schemes in his earlier plans for Manila  and San Francisco. All of Burnham’s city planning work revealed the profound influence of Baron von Haussmann’s Paris, most of all Paris’s wide avenues like the Avenue de Bois de Boulogne (today’s Avenue Foch), which was chosen to illustrate the chapter on streets in the Plan of Chicago. Accompanying text argued that the open space created would provide healthful air for workers as well as sites for plantings rare species of plants, for monuments and fountains, and for other public adornments. The Plan went so far as to suggest that buildings along these avenues should be uniform in height and complementary in style, as they were in Paris and other European capitals: “Without attempting to secure formality, or to insist on uniformity of design on a large scale, there should be a constant display of teamwork, so to speak, on the part of the architects.” In the midst of the skyscraper craze in Chicago, of which Burnham himself was a major figure, the uniformity in facades promoted by the vistas of the city by Jules Guerin and Fernand Fanin (see, for example, the next image), would prove to be elusive and illusionary.

See also: Mapping Ideal American Cities, European Inspirations, Burnham and the Philippines, and Parisian Boulevards and Avenues

"Paris. The Avenue du Bois de Boulogne, Looking Towards the Arc de Triomphe," from Plan of Chicago (Chicago: The Commercial Club, 1909), pl. XCII. Chicago History Museum, ICHi-68616