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Daniel Hudson Burnham Edit Profile

Architect , City planner

Daniel Hudson Burnham, FAIA was an American architect and urban designer.


Burnham was born in Henderson, New York, United States in 1846 and raised in Chicago, Illinois.


He graduated from a public high school in Chicago but failed to obtain admission to college.

He was educated in Chicago and at Waltham, Massachussets In 1871, he joined John W. Root (1850 - 1891) in the practice of architecture in Chicago.


A year later he went into partnership with a fellow draftsman at the firm, John Wellborn Root.

The partnership turned out to be a profitable one.

They prospered after the Great Chicago Fire, which decimated downtown Chicago.

Between 1873 and 1891 the firm designed 165 private residences and 75 buildings of various types.

Most of these buildings were European in influence: their exterior decorations echoed ancient Greek and Roman monuments.

Three of their buildings have been designated landmarks.

The sixteen-story Monadnock building (1891) was the last and tallest American masonry skyscraper.

In 1893, two years after the death of his partner, Burnham became chief of construction and chief consulting architect for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

The Colombian Exposition was a triumph and it made Burnham famous.

He was also accused of failing to realize that boulevards lined with offices would be deserted at night.

Despite these criticisms, much of his great plan was put into effect.

Some $300 million worth of architectural projects were built before the Great Depression called it to a halt in the 1936.

Burnham was also faulted for trying to make Chicago into another Paris, France.

The neoclassical architecture, broad avenues, and public gardens he favored echoed those of the French capital.

Famed Chicago architect Louis Sullivan (1856–1924) was said to have complained that Burnham's designs set American architecture back by 50 years.

His plan proposed the creation of a string of landfill islands and peninsulas, which would provide protection against natural erosion and storms and would also be an attractive site for pleasure boating, picnics, and other outdoor activities.

Although only one island was built, the Lincoln Park shoreline was extended with five miles of landfill.

Legacies of Burnham's plan also included Lakeshore Drive and Grant Park.

In 1905 he was consulted by then-Secretary of War William Howard Taft (1857–1930) for advice on a plan to rebuild and modernize Manila in the Philippines.


  • Among their Chicago buildings which were milestones in this development may be named the Rookery Building, the Rand-McNally Building, and the Masonic Temple, which for a time was the highest building in existence.

    Burnham's Flatiron Building in New York has become a famous landmark.

    His practice extended from coast to coast and to foreign lands, as in the development of the city plan for Manila.

    He prepared plans also for San Francisco, Baltimore, and Chicago, the last with E. H. Bennett.

    He had much to do with the development of Washington, D. C. , and his firm designed the Union Station in that city.

    Burnham teamed with architectural firms from all over the eastern United States to create an eclectic "White City"—a community of buildings and landscapes that combined boulevards, gardens and classical facades.

    He was the Director of Works for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

    Burnham took a leading role in the creation of master plans for the development of a number of cities, including Chicago, Manila and downtown Washington, D. C.

    He also designed several famous buildings, including the Flatiron Building of triangular shape in New York City, Union Station in Washington D. C. , the Continental Trust Company Building tower skyscraper in Baltimore (now One South Calvert Building), and a number of notable skyscrapers in Chicago.

    Each of these buildings had a lasting influence on the twentieth century cityscape, and through them, Daniel Burnham's vision endures.


His parents brought him up under the teachings of the Swedenborgian called The New Church, which ingrained in him the strong belief that man should strive to be of service to others.


In 1910 Burnham was appointed a member and the first chairman of the United States Commission of Fine Arts.


John Wellborn Root