The Plan of Chicago exemplifies the collaborative spirit of urban planning in the early twentieth century. Although Daniel Burnham continues to receive much of the credit and criticism for the work—so much so that it is often referred to as “the Burnham plan”—many individuals contributed to the project. City officials were consulted, but the Plan was not a government project. Rather, the undertaking was initiated and sponsored, financially and politically, by the Merchants Club and Commercial Club of Chicago (which merged before the plan was completed). These clubs consisted of self-selected civic leaders who were committed to advancing both business and philanthropy in Chicago. The work of creating the Plan, like the finished product, was large in scale, for it involved— over a three-year period—the skills of professional architects, designers, academics, researchers, illustrators, and editors.

The Plan of Chicago established an enduring model for the engagement of civic philanthropic organizations in the creation of visionary planning publications. For example, the Commercial Club of Chicago and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences collaborated to produce the 2001 publication, Metropolis 2020: A Chicago Plan for the Twenty-First Century. The philanthropic organization founded by the club to develop and promote this plan also was the primary organizer of the city-wide commemoration of the centennial of the Plan of Chicago in 2009, and supported in part the development of the exhibition that inspired this web resource.



Danzer, Gerald A. “The Plan of Chicago by Daniel H. Burnham and Edward H. Bennett: Cartographic and Historical Perspectives.” In Envisioning the City: Six Studies in Urban Cartography, David Buisseret, ed., pp. 144-173. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

Draper, Joan E. Edward H. Bennett: Architect and City Planner, 1874-1954. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1982.

Gordon, David L.A. “The other [sic] author of the 1908 [sic] Plan of Chicago: Edward H. Bennett—urban designer, planner and architect.” Planning Perspectives 25, 2 (2010): 229-241.

Johnson, Vilas. A History of the Commercial Club of Chicago. Chicago: Commercial Club of Chicago, 1977.

Metropolis 2020: A Chicago Plan for the Twenty-First Century. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.

Reps, John William. The Making of Urban America; a History of City Planning in the United States. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965.

Schaffer, Kristen J. Daniel H. Burnham: Urban Ideals and the Plan of Chicago. Dissertation, Cornell University, 1993.

Smith, Carl. The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.



Art Institute of Chicago. “Bennett, Edward H., Collection, 1901-1954.”

Art Institute of Chicago. “Jules Guerin.”.

Lake Forest College. “Edward H. Bennett Collection.”