Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The First Chicago Project by Daniel Burnham (1909) Began on November 14, 1910.

The Chicago City Council takes the first step in implementing Burnham's 1909 Plan of Chicago when it voted to widen Twelfth Street ('12th' Street was renamed Roosevelt Road on May 25, 1919), from Ashland Avenue to Michigan Avenue.  
Twelfth Street, Chicago, before widening the street. Circa 1895.

The Chicago Plan was underwritten by the Commercial Club of Chicago as a framework for beautifying the city while, at the same time, making it run more efficiently.  Improving Twelfth Street directly relates to several of the plan’s goals. It will improve a major artery to and from the central business district while providing a more efficient way to view an improved lakefront, one of the major goals of the plan. The Tribune reports, “From even the more western sections citizens could make their way by such a broad, beautiful boulevard directly to Grant Park, and it is for that reason that it is one of the first changes urged for completion by the plan commission.” 

Although the council’s move is not in the form of an ordinance, it does charge the Board of Local Improvements with the responsibility of drafting an ordinance to obtain a strip of property 52-feet wide along the south side of Twelfth Street between Ashland and Michigan, providing the space necessary for a boulevard that will be 118 feet wide. It took some time to get there, but this, the first step forward in implementing a pathway to the “City Beautiful,” led to the street we know today as Roosevelt Road being widened in 1917.
Looking west on Roosevelt Road from Halsted Street, Chicago. 1940

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

1 comment:

  1. When I saw 12th street, I had a feeling it was Roosevelt in Road! That's incredible how it looked back then. I grew up in my grandparents 2-flat Cicero until I was about 11 one block off Roosevelt and Laramie. The same 2-flat my dad grew up in. He told me stories about how Roosevelt Rd. was pretty much a prairie going over the railroad tracks past Laramie. Formit and Alden's were factories nearby as was Sunbeam.


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