This map from a guidebook to the resort of Saratoga Springs, New York provides some context for how the Plan of Chicago conceived the purpose of broad tree-lined boulevards and avenues within the street plan of Chicago. Like many resorts throughout the world since ancient times, Saratoga developed around natural hot springs valued both for their recreational and medical benefits. Saratoga was easily accessible from New York City via the Hudson River and had been a popular resort for wealthier Americans who could afford the passage since the early nineteenth century. The construction of railroads increased access to the resort by urban middle classes, including tourists who had relatively little interest in the springs themselves. The publication of guidebooks like Taintor’s for wide distribution indicates that Saratoga had lost some of its exclusivity by the 1880s. As indicated by this map, a trip to Saratoga frequently included excursions to nearby lakes and mountains and carriage drives through the rolling and varied country surrounding the resort. This urbane view of rural roads as recreational amenities had its counterpart in the parkways and boulevards constructed in many European and American cities during this period. These roads were seen as much as pleasurable pathways as they were routes of transportation. In Burnham and Bennett’s time, automobiles and bicycles mingled with horse-drawn carriages upon them, but they were still conceived largely in terms of their aesthetic as experiences in motion.
Aron, Cindy Sondik. Working at Play: A History of Vacations in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Sterngass, John. First Resorts: Pursuing Pleasure at Saratoga Springs, Newport, and Coney Island. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.
Waller, George. Saratoga: Saga of an Impious Era. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1966.
“Saratoga Drives and Excursions: Prepared For Taintor’s Guidebooks, 1882,” from Saratoga Illustrated, by Charles Newhall Taintor (New York: Taintor Bros., Merill & Co., 1882), between pp. 87 and 88. The Newberry Library, G 85178 .8