William Stead recognized the power of the fair immediately. The vision of the White City and its profound contrast to the Black City drove him to write If Christ Came to Chicago, a book often credited with launching the City Beautiful movement, which sought to elevate American cities to the level of the great cities of Europe. Like Stead, civic authorities throughout the world saw the fair as a model of what to strive for. They asked Burnham to apply the same citywide thinking that had gone into the White City to their own cities. He became a pioneer in modern urban planning. He created citywide plans for Cleveland, San Francisco, and Manila and led the turn-of-the-century effort to resuscitate and expand L’Enfant’s vision of Washington, D.C. In each case he worked without a fee. While helping design the new Washington plan, Burnham persuaded the head of the Pennsylvania Railroad, Alexander Cassatt, to remove his freight tracks and depot from the center of the federal mall, thus creating the unobstructed green that extends today from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial. Other cities came to Daniel Burnham for citywide plans, among them Fort Worth, Atlantic City, and St. Louis, but he turned them down to concentrate on his last plan, for the city of Chicago. Over the years many aspects of his Chicago plan were adopted, among them the creation of the city’s lovely ribbon of lakefront parks and Michigan Avenue’s Miracle Mile. One portion of the lakefront, named Burnham Park in his honor, contains Soldier Field and the Field Museum, which he designed. The park runs south in a narrow green border along the lakeshore all the way to Jackson Park, where the fair’s Palace of Fine Arts, transformed into a permanent structure, now houses the Museum of Science and Industry. It looks out over the lagoons and the Wooded Island, now a wild and tangled place that perhaps would make Olmsted smile—though no doubt he would find features to criticize.
― Erik Larson,
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
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