A man who aimed high, architect Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846-1912) helped rebuild Chicago after the Great Fire that swept through downtown in 1871. The crisis destroyed 3.5 square miles of the city and left over 90,000 homeless and millions of dollars of damage.
But as writer Anne Lindthorst once observed. "A crisis is only a turning point." Like the phoenix, Chicago arose from the ashes with glorious progress and growth. One skyscraper after another rose to line the sky.
The city was revitalized with new opportunities, new techniques, and new designs. "An idea," said architect Frank Lloyd Wright, " is salvation by imagination."
With partner John Wellborn Root, Burnham designed some of the city's remarkable skyscrapers, including 11-story Rookery, named after the hundreds of pigeons that roosted on the site and the Monadnock, the city's first and tallest skyscraper (16 stories), built entirely of masonry, without a steel frame.
Writer Jonathan Glancey called Burnham's 15-story Reliance Building, a vision of bay windows and terra-cotta beauty, "perhaps the purest expression of the first generation of skyscrapers."
To prevent these heavy buildings from sinking into Chicago's wet, sandy soil, Burnham designed a "floating foundation" to spread the weight of the building over a larger area.
Chicago aimed high in hope and work...
"I adore Chicago," said performer Sarah Bernhardt. "It is the pulse of America."
Make magic. Make big plans.