Beyond Burnham

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 late 2004 while on a US State Dept. fellowship in Sâo Paulo, Brazil.

It was there, during fall ’04 (actually spring in Brazil) that I finally found leisure to begin the book after years of work at NIPC. I was filled with frustration from five years of toil on a regional plan that still was unfinished. In Sâo Paulo, I was far enough away from it to reflect and gather some lessons. Somehow I had to justify what we had been doing for 5 years. So I traced a story leading back from our meager efforts to the giants of the past.

I spent 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

available on Amazon

The book received a good review from columnist John McCarron. Later that year I participated on a panel hosted by Midland Authors Society, which was a lot of fun (see newsletter). The following year we got a brief review in Illinois Issues. The book had good early sales. It remains a must-read for people serving on planning commissions, committees and boards in the Chicagoland 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 arose, Joe and I wrote an op-ed for Crain’s, pointing this out again.

written by Alan
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