Daniel Burnham

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Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood...

Daniel Hudson Burnham (4 September 18461 June 1912) was an American architect and urban planner.

Quotes[edit]

  • The space of time in which a great work can now be accomplished is not marvelous. Brain, muscle, materials, and the means of rapid transport are instantly at command. If one has capital and a well-considered plan, the thing does itself. But that which is wonderful and which I can scarcely believe, although I have been in the midst of it, is the noble, artistic result which has come from the work of American artists who have had only a few months' time to prepare those very designs for the great buildings of the Exposition which have actually been executed with little change from the sketches which were presented in February, 1891.

The Development of Cities of the Future (1910)[edit]

"The Development of Cities of the Future", an address to the Town Planning Conference in London, in October 1910, as quoted in "Stirred by Burnham, Democracy Champion", Chicago Record-Herald (15 October 1910); republished in "Burnham’s 'Make No Little Plans' Quote: Apocryphal No More!" bu Adam Selzer, Mysterious Chicago Tours (3 March 2019); also quoted in "A Chicago tale: Why we're happy to erase the asterisk from Daniel Burnham's 'Make no little plans*'", by The Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune (6 March 2019), and previously in Daniel H. Burnham, Architect, Planner of Cities (1921) by Charles Moore, Vol. 2, Chapter XXV "Closing in 1911-1912", p. 147, where its famous closing statement is provided without sourcing, and declared to have been formulated in 1907.
  • My subject is a city of the future under a Democratic government. Some very great men, and among them Herbert Spencer and Lord Macaulay, have predicted the downfall of the American democracy. Nevertheless, having firm confidence in our new mixture of bloods, our new environment, our searching publicity and our growing intelligence, I cannot doubt that the American democracy will persist. It takes far greater ability to subvert liberty now than ever before since man’s history began, and so I promise permanence to democratic institutions.
    To these is vitally related the future of the cities. Plenary democracies can do what we want them to do. They have full power over men, land and goods, and can always make their laws and execute their purposes. Democratic peoples, when they perceive the value of plans to bring convenience and beauty into the hearts of cities can get such plans carried out.
  • Sir William is one of the three or four first men in Canada. He is a fair sample of the kind of people who are beginning to think and work for the realization of the new architectural and spiritual era in the great cities of the North American continent. In such men surely this splendid cause has a splendid augury. The most difficult task of all before is that of raising public interest up to the level of definite action. Even this, in my judgement, is not at all impossible.
    Chicago is moving practically and with determination in the matter and hopes to educate the people to demand delightfulness as a part of life and to devise ways of getting it. Pessimists abound and have always abounded. To them most of the big and splended things are chimerical. Well, in 1850, there was little street paving in the United States, and not much in London or Paris. There were no great sewerage systems, water systems, gas, electric power and light, street cars, sidewalks or other systems, but all these we have now. We do things that would make our forbears think us magicians.
  • Our city of the future will be without smoke, dust or gases from manufacturing plants, and the air will therefore be pure. The streets will be as clean as our drawing rooms today. Smoke will be thoroughly consumed, and gases liberated in manufacture will be tanked and burned. Railways will be operated electrically, all building operations will be effectually shut in to prevent the escape of dust, and horses will disappear from the streets. Out of all these things will come not only commercial economy but bodily health and spiritual joy.
    As the water is generally pure, all that is needed is more economy in its use. Congestion is intolerable in all the great cities in the world and relief is imperative. It will be found in diverting people in other directions and in changing construction so as to carry more traffic .
    We may expect, in any event, double tunnels under all the business streets and the utmost use of the present street levels by extensive double-decking and many more overhead transportation lines. Some time the rush in the cities may cease, but I see no signs now of its ceasing, and meanwhile crowding must be dealt with. We need systems of passes around the congested districts. We need still more and mainly to diminish the number of people and vehicles using given areas.
  • Broadly speaking, the city of the future will not bring to its center any goods not intended for use or consumption therein. At Chicago 66% of the tonnage in and out is not for home use, but for distribution to other places. In view of this fact we designed a general freight scheems for the entire city’s use, with car yards, freight depots and warehouses combined, eight miles from the city, where all trains shall unload and reload. […] I believe that such a course would be economical both for the public service companies and the city government; certainly it would prolong the life of the street paving and eliminate congestion and a constant source of dirty and disorder. Can it be doubted that the city of the future will operate its cental street system, possibly all its streets, in this manner?
  • Do this because of the effect of nature upon citizenship. Other things being equal, a person accustomed to living in nature has a distinct advantage all his life over the purely townbred man. Allure your city denizen to sylvan nature, for it is there he finds the balm his spirt needs.
    Where a town lies near water, keep all the shore for the people. Neighborhood parks are magnificent both from the standpoint of hygiene and the standpoint of moral purity. Those who grow up before the eyes of the community escape those poisonous practices that lurk in secret places.
  • Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty.

External links[edit]

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