Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Interpretive Digital Essay : The Plan of Chicago
Some Private Thoughts
Chicago in 1909
Planning Before the Plan
Antecedents and Inspirations
The City the Planners Saw
The Plan of Chicago
The Plan Comes Together
Creating the Plan
Reading the Plan
A Living Document
Some Private Thoughts
Return to "Antecedents and Inspirations"

In this carbon copy of a letter of February 11, 1897, Burnham shares his thoughts on the progress of his lakefront plans with his father-in-law (whom he addresses as "My Dear Father"), John B. Sherman. After explaining that his proposals are progressing nicely, Burnham makes a number of characteristic statements: it is important to have a plan in place before proceeding with improvements; the plan must embody "the most magnificent improvement that can be desired"; the qualities he most admires in South Park Commission President James Ellsworth are his "high ideas" and willingness to "work hard for them"; and a key purpose of any improvements is to "keep our rich people and their money here, and to bring others." The "Gage" referred to is Lyman J. Gage, the Chicago banker and civic leader who was about to leave for Washington to serve as President McKinley's Secretary of the Treasury. Sherman was a member of the South Park Commission for twenty-five years and succeeded Ellsworth as its president.