The Plan of Chicago – Book Review
The Plan of Chicago is a quick and easy read that’s perhaps best described as a launchpad. Carl Smith breaks down key aspects of Burnham‘s plan in his book and details how they came to be, who influenced them, and how they turned out. For someone who hasn’t actually read the actual plan (not required or expected for reading this book), author Carl Smith uses just the right amount of detail to illustrate the concepts. At 167 pages, it’s easy to digest in just a few hours of reading, and includes just the right number of photos and illustrations to illuminate key concepts of Burnham’s plan.
Having known only a limited amount about the plan in advance of reading the book I found reading the book certainly more valuable than I would have found reading the plan itself. Smith concludes the book by introducing other books readers might find valuable on the topic, and I’m certainly convinced to check out at least one or two more. It’s also apparent to me that by the time I finished reading the book I was never going to look at Chicago in quite the same way. Despite having spent a lot of time in The Loop, for a resident of Milwaukee, I now have a completely new appreciation for the city and a much greater sense of place.
The fact that it’s a quick read with plenty of photos certainly makes it much more consumable for those only loosely familiar with Chicago. If you’re at all interested in urban planning, the history and formation of cities, or Chicago you’ll find this book enjoyable.