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American Classic: Daniel Burnham

October 14, 2009

Daniel Burnham

Name: Daniel Hudson Burnham

Occupation: Architect

Hometown: Chicago

Notable Works: 1892 World’s Columbian Exposition, Flatiron Building (NYC), Union Station (D.C.), The Rookery (Chicago), The Plan of Chicago, Marshall Field Building (Chicago), Filene’s Building  (Boston)

Hobbies/Interests: Mustaches, City Planning (Chicago, Cleveland, S.F. & D.C.), Classical Style

Burnham Drawing

One advantage of growing up in and around Chicago is the truly amazing architecture.  Daniel Burnham is highly responsible for the non-stop innovation that goes into the aesthetics of this city.  Co-authoring The Plan of Chicago, Burnham imagined a city that would would include grand avenues, enhanced railways systems, and lakeside greenways – a plan that not only resembles Chicago today, but is a common desire of many modern cities.


The Rookery, located on LaSalle Street near the South Loop in Chicago, has been one of my favorite buildings to memory.  Now a dwarf among giants, what this building lacks in size it makes up for in character, not to mention there’s a legit old Brooks Brothers on the first floor.

The Rookery

Union Station, D.C.

Union Station D.C

The Flatiron building is recognizable by just about anyone, and has become one New York City’s most iconic structures.


This image and this image alone, before even knowing who Daniel Burnham was, has always stunned me.  I’ve never quite been able to wrap my head around the fact that such a place actually existed, let alone in Chicago.  As  with ancient Rome, this scenery carries an almost make believe quality that causes one to wrestle with the idea that something to such effect was once in America, and only 117 years ago.   However, as Rome can still be seen and touched,  this photo and a few others are all we have from Burnham’s Columbian Exposition.  Other notable achievement at this World’s Fair include Pabst winning the blue ribbon for being such a fine beverage, forever altering its name and image.

Columbian Expo

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 16, 2009 00:45

    I want to let you know that I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. Since it’s one of a handful of my must-reads, I’ve gone ahead and added it to my blog’s list of favorites. Looking forward to more of your great postings.

    By the way, San Francisco has a bit of a Burnham connection. In 1904 Burnham drafted a plan to change the layout of SF. Unfortunately, it was never implemented. -Aaron

  2. October 16, 2009 21:06

    Sluice Box, thanks for checking in, I really appreciate the support and kind comments.

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