Daniel Burnham: A Key Player in Chicago’s Architecture

Daniel Burnham: A Key Player in Chicago’s Architecture

Daniel Burnham was an architect and city planner who sculpted the architectural feel of Chicago’s most notable neighborhoods. From Navy Pier to Union Station, Burnham’s influence spans the entire city. Working frequently with artistic partner John Wellborn Root, Burnham and Root created the first ever skyscraper: The Montauk Building. Many of their legendary buildings are still standing in Chicago, such as the Rookery and Macy’s on State Street. Let’s take a closer look at the influence Daniel Burnham had on Chicago.

Chicago’s World’s Fair

Chicago Union Station

Marking the 400th anniversary of the Christopher Columbus voyage, Daniel Burnham and John Wellborn Root were hired as chief architects of the World’s Fair. This event marked a significant moment in U.S. history, setting Chicago’s place as a major epicenter of arts and culture. Burnham’s vision of a “White City” led to an influx of brightly-lit boulevards, white Stucco buildings, and scenic gardens that illuminated the horizon.

You can see the result of Burnham’s influence in locations like Jackson Park, featuring Osaka Garden, and Wooded Island, which was the original center of the World’s Fair.

The Plan of Chicago

Burnham was one of the original planners of Chicago’s lakefront region, connecting Grant Park and Jackson Park. Alongside Edward Bennett, the Plan of Chicago debuted in 1909. This plan featured a gorgeous integration of manmade architecture and natural elements, like parks and waterways. The redesign not only improved city aesthetics, but quality of life as well.

Navy Pier, Northerly Island, and Grant Park are some of the greatest triumphs to emerge from the Plan of Chicago.

Notable Burnham Designs

Burnham’s grand designs can be found all throughout Chicago. Some of his most notable buildings include:

  • The Rookery (209 S. LaSalle Street): Featuring spiraling cast iron staircases and a striking façade, this 16-story building is one of Chicago’s oldest.
  • Macy’s on State Street (111 N. State Street): The Classic Revival Style of this Macy’s is reflected in its grandiose details, like stained glass and Tiffany mosaics.
  • Union Station (210 S. Canal Street): This legendary train station features Beaux Arts design and spans the length of an entire city block.

Explore the Architecture of Chicago!

With Shoreline Sightseeing, you can view the historical architecture of Daniel Burnham along with other iconic Chicago landmarks. Our 75-minute Chicago Architecture tour will give you a deeper understanding of the city’s magnificence while sailing through the historic Chicago River. We look forward to seeing you soon!