Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Interpretive Digital Essay : The Plan of Chicago
The Plan of Chicago
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
Civic Center
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Plan of Chicago, Plate CXXXI

Janin's drawing conveys the neoclassical grandeur that the planners wanted the Civic Center to express since they saw it as the administrative center of a new Chicago. By locating the Civic Center at the intersection of widened Congress and Halsted Streets, they also hoped to encourage expansion of the city's downtown south and west from the Loop.

Aerial View of Circle Interchange, Looking North, 1973


The Civic Center was never constructed, and its proposed location became instead one of the world's most ambitious and busy highway intersections. The Kennedy Expressway runs north of the Circle Interchange and can be seen at the top of the photograph. The Ryan Expressway reaches south at the bottom of the interchange, the Eisenhower to the west, and Congress Parkway runs east from the Circle into the area of downtown just south of the Loop. The campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago, once known as the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle because of its proximity to the interchange, can be seen in the lower left corner of the photo. Halsted Street runs north and south just west of the interchange.


Civic Center Mural


The view is northeast across the Eisenhower Expressway, looking toward the downtown, with the Sears Tower in the background. The closest the proposed Civic Center came to being built in the form suggested by the Plan is a local mural, based on a drawing in the Plan. The mural is on the back of a warehouse building at the southwest corner of Van Buren and Morgan Streets, about four blocks west of where the Plan said the Civic Center should be. The mural can be clearly seen by using the zoom tool.