Over a period of 150 years, Chicago has been a world-class leader for outstanding examples of architecutural innovation and urban planning. The list of famous architects who have lived in Illinois and have done their most significant commissions in the state is a long one that includes William Le Baron Jenney, the father of the skycraper; Louis H. Sullivan and Dankmar Adler, leading lights of The Prairie School; the founder of landscape architecture Frederick Law Olmsted; Frank Lloyd Wright, a prolific designer who left more examples of his work in Illinois than in any other state; and Ludwig Mies Vander Roe, the designer of the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology.
But the architect with the greatest influence on the development of Chicago after the great fire of 1871 and whose work in both architecture and city planning was admired around the world was Daniel Burnham, the director of design for the Columbian Exposition World's Fair of 1893. The Burnham Plan for the City of Chicago in 1909 is still the dominant influence we see today along the lake front. There have been deviations from the plan. Navy Pier was supposed to be the northern most of two great piers, but the other southern land extention into Lake Michigan is now the road to the Adler Planetarium. In addition to the Chicago Plan, Burnham worked on city plans for Cleveland, Washington, DC, San Francico, and Manila.
Daniel Burnham was born in Henderson, New York on Sept. 4, 1846 and raised in Chicago where he lived and worked for the rest of his life. At age 36, Burnham met his business partner John Welborn Root (1850-1891). The firm of Burnham and Root was formed in 1873 and designed many notable Chicago buildings such as The Rookery, The Monadnock Building (northern half), The Union Stock Yard Gate, The Masonic Temple Building, The Reliance Building, Kent House, The Fischer Building, and others. Outside of Chicago, Burnham designed Union Station in Washington, DC, The Flat Iron Building in New York City, the Union Station of 1897 in Columbus, Ohio, and the Pennsylvania Railroad Station in Richmond, Indiana. Daniel Burnham died on June 1, 1912 at the age of 65. He is buried in Graceland Cemetery. His two sons formed a firm called Burnham Brothers and continued to design significant buildings such as the Carbon and Carbide Building at 230 N. Michigan in 1929. For an extensive list of great Chicago landmarks and their designers, see the City of Chicago Landmarks Web Site.