Beyond Burnham

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I am coauthor with Joe Schwieterman of Beyond Burnham, An Illustrated History of Planning for the Chicago Region (Lake Forest College Press, 2009). I began writing the book in Sâo Paulo, Brazil, while on a US State Dept. fellowship.

It was there, during the fall of 2004, that I finally found leisure to begin a book. I was filled with five years of frustration from work on a regional plan for Chicago. But in Sâo Paulo I was far enough away to reflect on my toil and gather some lessons. Somehow I had to justify what we had been doing. So I traced a story leading back from our meager efforts to the giants of the past.

I took 4 months outlining, then returned to Chicago and wrote two hundred pages over the next two years. Finally I quit and handed the draft to Joe who gave it structure and laid out the chapters. Then he and I worked on it together for a year. We finished in time for publication in mid-2009 during the Burnham Plan Centennial commemorations.

Beyond Burnham Cover

Beyond Burnham is available on Amazon.

The book received a good review from columnist John McCarron, which may be read here. Later that year I participated on a panel hosted by the Midland Authors Society, which was a lot of fun, as reported in this newsletter. The following year we got a brief review in Illinois Issues. The book had good early sales. It remains a must-read for for people serving on planning commissions, committees and boards in the Chicago area.

Here’s how McCarron and another prominent commentator Robert Yaro summarized the book:

Definitive and readable, Schwieterman and Mammoser provide answers for all who’ve wondered whatever happened to the spirit of Daniel Burnham in Chicago. What most surprises is the idealism and tenacity of latter-day heroes who, at last, get their due –  John McCarron, urban affairs columnist, Chicago Tribune

An extraordinary story, Beyond Burnham shows how Burnham and Bennett’s landmark Plan of Chicago created the foundation for a century of civic- and government-led initiatives. It depicts the remarkable personalities behind these plans –  Robert D. Yaro, President, Regional Plan Association of New York

In the book, Joe and I wrote that the regional reform of 2005 was incomplete, because it combined two agencies but not their boards. We wrote that this failure foreshadowed continuing weakness in regional planning. Later, in 2014 when the Illiana Tollway imbroglio occurred, Joe and I wrote an op-ed for Crain’s, pointing this out again.

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