Chicago Plan Commission.

Chicago's greatest issue; an official plan online

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HIS Pamphlet portrays what
Chicago has what it owes
what it is worth what it is
gaining what it needs
what it should do. It is designed for
easy reference and that all citizens of
Chicago may study "THE PLAN OF
CHICAGO," originally created at the
request of and promoted by The
Chicago Commercial Club Later
committed for study and development
to The Chicago Plan Commission,
created by the Mayor of Chicago in
November, 1909.

One hundred and sixty-five thousand
copies of this edition were printed in
June, 1911, and distributed broadcast
throughout the city.

Additional copies may be had on
written request from the Chicago Plan
Commission's headquarters, Room
314, Hotel La Salle, Chicago.


* S&VjRHP^ ~=*>


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Prepared under the direction of

The Chicago Plan Commission


Honorary President ex-officio
FRANK I. BENNETT, Vice-Chairman
WALTER D. MOODY, Managing Director

The charts and pictures are used by courtesy of the
Commercial Club of Chicago.

The Chicago Plan Commission

Copyright 1911



of the

Table of Contents


Owners of Chicago 9

What the Chicago Plan Is 16

Plans for the Lake Front 35

Forests for the People 46

OUT Transportation Problem 47

Street Needs of Chicago 53

Building a Civic Center 64

The Cost, How to Divide It 71

Capitalizing the Chicago Spirit 76

How Other Great Cities are Building 79

Original Promoters of the Plan of Chicago 88

Members Chicago Plan Commission *..,..!.. 89

1 009057

List of Illustrations


Chicago in 1846 2

View of the proposed development in the center of the city 8

South Water Street, Chicago, 1834 9

Chicago from the West, 1845 15

Corner Clark and South Water Streets, 1864 16

Chicago, general diagram of exterior highways encircling, or radiating from,
the city 23

Plan of the quadrangle, bounded by Twelfth Street on the south, Halsted
Street on the west, Chicago Avenue on the north and Michigan Avenue on
the east 24

Proposed boulevard to connect the north and south sides of the river 26

Proposed Twelfth Street improvement at its intersections with Michigan

Avenue and Ashland Avenue 28

Twelfth Street, the new plan 30

Michigan Avenue from Park Row, 1864 34

Chicago, park development proposed for the lake shore from Chicago Avenue
on the north to Jackson Park on the south 36

View looking south over the lagoons of the proposed park for the south shore 38

Chicago, general map showing topography, waterways, and complete system of

streets, boulevards, parkways and parks 42

Diagram of city center, showing the proposed arrangement of railroad pas-
senger stations, the complete traction system, including rapid transit,
subway and elevated roads, and the circuit subway line 48

Diagram of the city center, showing the general location of existing freight
yards and railroad lines, the present tunnel system and proposed circuit,
and connections for all these services, running to the central clearing yards 49

Plan of the center of the city, showing the present and proposed street and

boulevard system 54

Plan of the complete system of street circulation; railway stations; parks;
boulevard circuits and radial arteries; public recreation piers; yacht
harbor and pleasure boat piers; treatment of Grant Park; the main axis
and the civic center ' 60

View, looking west, of the proposed civic center plaza and buildings. 65

The business center of the city, within the first circuit boulevard 67

View looking west over the city, showing the proposed civic center, the grand

axis, Grant Park and the harbor 69

The transformation of Paris under Haussmann, plan showing the portion

executed from 1854 to 1889 80

The Chicago Plan Commission

MAYOR CARTER H. HARRISON, Honorary President ex-officio.
FRANK I. BENNETT, Vice-Chairman.
WALTER D. MOODY, Managing Director.


WACKER, Chairman.


Headquarters Chicago Plan Commission, Room 314, Hotel LaSalle.
Telephone Franklin 700 Room 314







It is almost incredible that Chicago has grown from a settlement of ten
building-s to a great city of 2,250,000 inhabitants in the short span of 76 years.
[Original owned by the Chicago Historical Society.]

Owners of Chicago.

us, as owners of the great corporation known
as the City of Chicago, devote a few minutes
of our busy lives to taking stock. Let us see
just what we have, what we owe, what we are
gaining, what our city is worth to us and what
to do to make this big property of ours more valuable to
ourselves and for our children.

Cities, like private enterprises, must move forward with
the times. Shall we permit our competitors at home and
abroad to outrival us in the march of progress? What other
cities are doing Chicago must do to hold her commercial
supremacy and maintain her rightful position in the front
ranks of the world's great arenas of commerce, art, science,
beauty and health. London, Berlin, Paris, Vienna and. New
York have each set the pace for greater development
newer and better things.

Chicago must be aroused and shake off her lethargy of
indifference and self-satisfaction born in the hurly-burly of
success in other days. Let us pause, catch our breath and
take a glimpse of the future. What must we do to safe-
guard, and add to the greatest natural heritage bequeathed
to any world city unrivaled geographical location?

It is not a question of what we are and what we have
become but, of what we should be, and what we may

The only right way to solve this problem is to stop right
where we are and determine to break the bondage of vanity
and self-praise while honestly inquiring of ourselves as citi-
zens, what manner of stewards are we?

In beginning this task, let us imagine ourselves grouped
around a great table as long and as wide as our city. Let
us take up the latest expert reports of the worth of the prop-
erty we own in common. First we will take the city itself,
because it seems nearest to us.

Are you surprised to be told you are an equal owner in
$200,000,000 of property there? '

Then the county property. It is worth $25,000,000 cash.

The sanitary district next. Its property would bring
$45,000,000 on the market.

The parks. Subdivide them, cut them up in lots, and
they would sell for at least $150,000,000.

Add these sums up, and we find ourselves today with
actual cash assets of $420,000,000. We could sell out today,
we find, and have $1,000 cash for every voter in Cook
County. Facts and conservatively stated.

When we think of these things, and remember all that
property is ours a great fortune we are to leave to our
children we begin to feel a new responsibility and a new
pride in being citizens of Chicago. We feel that we ought
to handle that property well, don't we, and increase its
value if we can?

Now for the other side of the ledger.

What do we owe?

The books are brought in, spread upon the table, and we
find our total bonded debt is only $25 for each of us. And
we find, too, that we have many years to pay even this small
debt, which includes the sanitary district, park and World's
Fair bonds.

We are reminded by somebody about the table that our
family debt, though small, may be greater than the debt of
other city families. So we ask. about this, and we are


astonished and relieved to learn that of the sixteen largest
cities in the United States only one has a smaller debt
for each citizen than Chicago. We stand on the list be-
tween Milwaukee with $28.56 and Detroit with $18.78 per

The following figures, taking from Appleton's Year
Book, 1910, indicate Chicago's indebtedness per capita in
relation to the sixteen largest cities in the United States:

Population Indebtedness Per

Cities 1910 191O Capita

New York 4,766,833 91,014,626,356 $212.85

Boston 670,585 110,769,073 165.17

Cincinnati 364,463 51,323,518 I lo.s I

New Orleans 339,075 27,324,360 8O.58

Newark, N. J 347,469 25,674,200 73.91

Pittsburg 533,905 37,802,787 70.80

Baltimore 558,485 36,847,457 65.97

Cleveland 560,663 36,847,457 65.72

Philadelphia 1,549,008 95,483,820 61.64

Buffalo 423,715 24,694,901 58.28

San Francisco 416,912 16,105,8OO 38.63

St. Louis 687,029 24,389,312 35.49

Washington . 331,069 9,494,800 28.67

Milwaukee 353,857 10,107,000 28.56

CHICAGO 2,185,283 56,101,674 25.66

Detroit 465,766 8,749,000 18.78


Park Bonds $11,009,000

Sanitary Bonds 2O,645,OOO

Total $31,654,OOO per capita $14.48

Municipal Debt 24,447,674 per capita I I . IS

Grand Total $56,101,674 per capita $25.66

This table, showing the indebtedness of Uncle Sam's
large cities, indicates that Chicago has not been extravagant.
Comparing our public improvements and our expenditures
with the other cities shown, it also indicates that "we cannot
get something for nothing." Chicago is a great business
enterprise worth $420,000,000 with an annual earning
power of upwards of $45,000,000, besides an additional rev-
enue may be had of many millions under its bonding power.
At the close of the year 1910 there was $20,000,000 in the
public treasury representing various unexpended appro-
priations. This great corporation of ours in which we are
all interested cannot be expected to stand still; investments


must be made for necessary present improvements and in
anticipation of future growth.

Next comes the question as to what we are gaining in

Sixty-five thousand a year for the last forty years is the
answer. Uncle Sam gives it to us through his census re-
ports. He adds that in counting his nephews and nieces in
1910, he found they were gathering more and more every
year in his cities. Forty of every hundred Americans now
live in cities, the figures say, and twelve of every hundred
live in the three cities of New York, Chicago- and Phila-

Those statements mean to us that it is a sure and certain
thing that city growth is to continue, and we begin to figure
on how fast Chicago is likely to grow.

Most of us who were born in America, and who are not
native Chicagoans, came from nearby places. It is fair for
us to assume, then, that it is from nearby places that Chicago
will draw her new-coming Americans.

"How many are near Chicago now?" we ask.

We get the surprising reply that fifty million people,
the bulk of a great nation, live within a night's ride of our

When we sense these facts each of us begins to have a
new pride in Chicago. We remind ourselves that mere
bigness in a city is no longer the demand of Americans, but
that we are demanding now that each year our cities shall
be better places to live in, and we get down to figuring out
what our city is worth to us in our lives and our happiness.
We begin to look to Chicago's future, and to be interested
in our real part and our real duty in conducting this $420,-
000,000 Chicago of ours.

Now at this great meeting of the multitude making up
Chicago, hundreds of men arise to talk to us, as fellow
owners, about the right things to do to make Chicago what
we all would have it.

Let us listen to one of these men, talking to the people
of his own neighborhood at their section of the great imag-


inary table where we have gathered to discuss Chicago's

"You live in Chicago, don't you?" queries the speaker.

"You have your business here?"

"You work here, don't you?"

"You are loyal to Chicago for her, heart and soul
aren't you?"

"You want to see Chicago the best city it can be. Isn't
that true?"

"You want to see it clean and convenient and health-
ful and attractive and prosperous and safe. You want
to see it just as right for your comfort and success as it can
be made today, don't you?"

"You want the future Chicago to be better than the past,
if it can be, don't you? better for your children to be born,
live, work, marry and succeed in?"

"If you were making a new Chicago today if you had
power to turn the wheels of time back forty of the seventy-
five years of Chicago's short life, you would make some
changes, wouldn't you?"

"Now some of us plain men, business men, practical
men -have been interested in the changes necessary," the
speaker goes on to say. "We believe we have a way to
make the changes needed easy, sensible, simple to under-
take. We have had the world's ablest architects at work
for years. We have worked night and day ourselves. We
have spent over a hundred thousand dollars, and we believe
we have created a way to make Chicago a better city for

"This has been referred to as a dream," suggests some-
one about the table.

"Yes," continues the speaker, "it is a dream just such
a dream as the new LaSalle and Blackstone Hotels present
in contrast to the old Tremont House a dream such as
the new Chicago & Northwestern twenty-million-dollar
passenger terminal presents in contrast to the old North-
western station at Wells Street."

"We want to suggest our plan to you right now," the
speaker concludes, "and we want you to study our sug-


gestion. If you like it if it will do what we say it will do
we ask only that you approve of it and that work be
begun upon our plan right away, so that Chicago may not
have to spend millions in the future where thousands will
do the work today. If it can be improved upon, we want
that improvement made, for it is not a hard and fast prop-
osition. Any changes anybody can suggest o-ught to be
given thought, but let us get together again, in the same
spirit that immortalized Chicago in the birth of her great
World's Fair, and make Chicago the best, as well as the
biggest, of all our great American cities."

Present conditions in Chicago lack of order in city
building, coupled with the lack of many great necessities,
are an outgrowth of a natural condition. For upwards of
fifty years or more the, people of Chicago for the most part
were struggling in their efforts to build up successful busi-
ness enterprises. Our people were without large means.
The first duty of every individual is to safeguard and pro-
mote his own business, but when individual success is as-
sured attention should then be directed to the public wel-

Neglect of the citizen to give some of time, some of
thought and some of money to public good, if widely dis-
tributed, would mean disaster to the community.

Having become prosperous, we should now earnestly di-
rect our attention to solving our many perplexing problems,
which have crowded in upon us seemingly all at once the
building of a subway construction of outer harbors
realization of a proper housing plan and the development
of a city plan as a whole. Provision is made in the Plan of
Chicago which affords a solution of practically all of these

As citizens of Chicago we would be enthused by that
kind of a speech, would we not? We would be impressed,
too, and would determine to give careful attention to the
ideas advanced by those speakers. That determination
brings us face to face with a patriotic, non-political and
non-partisan, all-Chicago issue, and with the work of the


Chicago Plan Commission a body of three hundred and
twenty-eight sound, hard-headed Chicago business men,
drawn from all classes and representing all interests, and_
working today to benefit all the people of Chicago in all
the years and centuries to come.

CHICAGO IN 1845. FROM THE WEST. Population 12, <
[Original owned by the Chicago Historical Society.]

An individual never attains any very great size mentally
nor morally except as he attaches himself to a great
idea, and that idea, being worthy, grows with him
until the stature of the man becomes equal to the stature
of the idea to which he has attached himself."


[Original owned by the Chicago Historical Society.]

What the Chicago Plan is.

The characteristic of greatness is

wisdom to anticipate the future

while conserving the present.

IHAT is the* Chicago Plan?

It is a plan to direct the future growth of
the city in an orderly, systematic way.
What is its object?
To make Chicago a real, centralized city in-
stead of a group of overcrowded, overgrown villages.
What does it mean?

That by properly solving Chicago's problems of trans-
portation, street congestion, recreation and public health
the city may grow indefinitely in wealth and commerce,
and hold her position among the great cities of the world.
Above everything else it is concerned with the three most
vital problems confronting every metropolitan community
congestion, traffic and public health. The easy and con-
venient movement of traffic facilitates business, while the
chief concern of any city is the public health of its citizens
its greatest asset. The Chicago Plan demands in the


interest of the latter more and larger parks and play
grounds and better and wider streets.

The conservation of natural resources as a national asset
of prime importance is occupying the serious attention of
the government, as we all know, but what is more important
than the conservation of public health, especially in large

Every human life is a national asset and should be care-
fully preserved.

It is a matter of governmental record in countries where
conscription to army service is compulsory that the physique
of the city dwellers is degenerating, so that only a relatively
small percentage of those living in congested cities are able
to measure up to the strict requirements for military service.

Germany is alarmed on account of this condition and
has begun a wide movement to intelligently and systematic-
ally direct proper city plans for bettering present conditions
and for future growth.

England found that during the Boer war only a small
percentage of recruits from large cities offering themselves
for service in the army were physically fit.

The United States during the Spanish-American war
found the same condition of affairs existed to a very alarm-
ing extent. We can all remember the publicity given to the
large number of rejections of recruits offering themselves
for service from our large cities.

In the United States at the time of the Civil War only
3 % of the population lived in cities. In 50 years this has
increased to more than 40%. In the past the problem con-
fronting our people in the rapidly growing cities was to
provide gas, electric light, pure water, adequate schools and
scientifically equipped and conducted public institutions for
the sick and improvident. The problem of our great cities
today and for the next generation, is to provide light, air,
ample means for healthful recreation, relief from conges-
tion, facilitation of traffic, housing of the poor, scientific
organization of charities, better public improvements and
attractive surroundings to the multitudes swarming to the
cities. Right city planning is basic. A proper plan of-


finally adopted and realized for the direction of the growth
of a city in an orderly and systematic way practically affords
a complete solution of the problems confronting our great
municipalities. Such is the Plan of Chicago.

What are we as citizens to do to promote it?

First we are to study it that we may understand it.
When that is accomplished we are to make it clearly and
distinctively our ideal. We are to bid good-bye to pro-
vincialism that calls itself "community patriotism," and
thinks itself loyal because it sneers at the efforts of every
other city to solve their problems, while ignoring its own.
We are to break the bonds of civic paresis and come to un-
derstand that wise and great as we are in Chicago, we are
not so wise but that we can learn something in city plan-
ning from France, from Germany, from England and from
our own American cities nor so great but that we should
enhance our greatness by the kind of wisdom which respects
civic advance wherever it may be found. We are to look
forward to the time when all barriers to the Plan of Chi-
cago will be broken down in the broad spirit that an in-
jury to one is an injury to all, and that the well being of
one promotes the well being of all. We are to make the
PLAN our ideal and to put it before us and dare to recog-
nize it and to BELIEVE in it and to build for it. We are to
forecast the time when it will seem as extraordinary not
to have an official plan toward which to direct the growth
of our city as it now seems that Chicago was ever allowed
to be worked out like an ill-patched crazy quilt. We are
to establish by the influence and work of a united citizen-
ship the power of law necessary for Chicago's advance com-
mensurate with her greatness. It requires only sufficient
local patriotism to substitute order for disorder, and rea-
son, common sense and action for negligence, indifference
and inertia.

Let us bear in mind the vital point that forty per cent
of all the people of the United States are now living in
cities; twelve per cent, as stated, live in New York, Chicago
and Philadelphia. Medical authorities assert that the
physical condition of men in cities "as compared with that


of men in the country" is deteriorating and gradually be-
coming more deficient. There is a great public responsi-
bility resting upon the metropolitan municipality in pro-
viding adequate means for recreation and the health of its
citizens that physical efficiency may be maintained, thereby
adding tremendously to the composite earning power of
the community. Thus it will be seen that aside from the
humanitarian and practical necessity for right city build-
ing there is a decided commercial asset in right planning
that should not be lightly set aside.

We designate the life of Chicago as being 75 years, but it
might be more properly figured as 40 years, for within two
generations we have added in round numbers 2,000,000
members to our great family. In all likelihood we shall
have a population of 4,000,000 twenty years from today. A
single generation is a short span in the life of a great and
growing city. The majority of our big family will live to
see the year 1930. What, then, do we propose to do to sur-
round ourselves, our children and their children with
attractive conditions comfort, convenience, means of recre-
ation, health and happiness?

Again answering the question, "What does it mean?"
Municipal economy is of prime importance. Lack of
order and extravagance go hand in hand. It is as neces-
sary to build a city in accordance with a well laid out plan
as it is in building a house or in having a model for the
making of a garment.

In the twenty-five years ending with 1906 more than
$222,000,000 of the taxpayers' money were spent for extraor-
dinary betterments and improvements. This colossal item
affords startling evidence of what might have been accom-
plished toward the realization of a plan such as we are urg-
ing had the city adopted an official plan a generation ago.

Many millions may yet be saved by carrying out this
work before property values appreciate still higher and
by securing cohesion of all interests, such as the park com-
missions, forest preserve commission and other powers,
in carrying out their future work according to a set plan.


Who is handling the Chicago Plan?

That is being done by the Chicago Plan Commission,
a great representative body of men appointed by Mayor
Fred A. Busse in November, 1909, who placed in charge
as permanent chairman Mr. Charles H. Wacker.

At the first meeting of the Commission held in the
City Council Chamber, November 4, 1909, Mr. Frank I.
Bennett was elected Vice-Chairman, and Mr. Henry
Barrett Chamberlin, Secretary pro tern.

The Commission is being actively supported in its work
by the parent of the Chicago Plan movement, the Com-

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