The Civic Plaza (1917)

After the Plan of Chicago and Daniel Burnham’s death in June of 1912, Edward H. Bennett’s services were in high demand. He produced 19 plans for cities across North America, including Buffalo, Detroit, Ottawa, and Pasadena. Bennett and coauthor Andrew Wright Crawford produced a classic City Beautiful plan in the Plan of Minneapolis (1917), published by that city’s Civic Commission.

In booster terms reminiscent of the Plan of Chicago, Bennett and Crawford identified Minneapolis as a “coming metropolis…a commercial and officially designated financial capital of an empire greater in area than Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, and Switzerland combined. Bennett and Crawford went on to suggest that “the volume of its new citizens, already coming from many sources… will add to its population and resources, but their coming will necessitate the rapid expansion of the physical city of Minneapolis. That expansion will be either healthy or unhealthy, adequate or inadequate, preconceived or haphazard.”  As Bennett and Crawford argued, “public health is purchasable” with thoughtful planning and long-term investment.

The Plan of Minneapolis includes a Jules Guerin watercolor of a “Civic Plaza” that mimics elements of Burnham and Bennett’s work in Chicago. The caption describes the plaza as the “logical solution of present and future traffic demand.” Further, the caption claims, “Every building shown here will be ultimately required anyway. The plan merely proposes that each shall be located in accordance with a preconceived design, so that a harmonious development and an economical use of land will result.”  As with other centerpieces to City Beautiful plans, neither the civic plaza nor the grand Sixth Avenue Boulevard was ever built, falling to cost considerations and the potential displacement involved. Still, some of the smaller recommendations in the Plan for Minneapolis did come to fruition, most notably additions to the city’s park system.



Bennett, Edward H. and Andrew Wright Crawford. The Plan of Minneapolis, Prepared Under the Direction of the Civic Commission. Minneapolis: The Civic Commission, 1917.

Gordon, David L.A., “The Other Author of the 1908 Plan of Chicago,” Planning Perspectives 25, 2 (2010).

Oredson, Vincent. "Planning at City: Minneapolis, 1907-17," Minnesota History 33 (1953).



Bennett, Edward H. “General Plan of Minneapolis, Minnesota showing a complete street and park system, prepared for the Civic Commission of Minneapolis, 1917.” The Minnesota Historical Society.

Bennett, Edward H. and Andrew Wright Crawford. “The Plan of Minneapolis, Prepared Under the Direction of the Civic Commission.” Minneapolis, 1917. American Libraries Digital Archive.

“The Civic Plaza, Looking West From Eighth Street Along Sixth Avenue,” in Edward H. Bennett and Andrew Wright Crawford The Plan of Minneapolis, Prepared Under the Direction of the Civic Commission (Minneapolis: The Civic Commission, 1917). Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, The Art Institute of Chicago