Daniel Hudson Burnham Is born

Architect and city planner Daniel Hudson Burnham was born in Henderson, New York, on September 4, 1846.

He moved with his family to Chicago nine years later. As a young man, Burnham worked in several Chicago architectural offices before joining fellow draftsman John Wellborn Root to establish a practice in 1873.

The firm of Burnham and Root soon became central to the pioneering Chicago School of architecture, known for transforming the late-nineteenth-century urban landscape. With such structures as the Rookery Building (1886-88), Reliance Building, (1890-94) and Monadnock Block (1891), Burnham and Root helped to invent the modern skyscraper, changing forever our city skylines.

Burnham and Root's prolific partnership ended in 1891 upon Root's death from pneumonia. At that time, they were working closely with landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted on the plan for Chicago's upcoming 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, for which Burnham served as chief of construction. Burnham coordinated the design and construction of an elaborate fairground replete with grand boulevards, classical building facades, and lush gardens. Noted artists including Mary Cassatt, Daniel Chester French, and Augustus St. Gaudens, as well as architects including Richard Morris Hunt, Louis Sullivan, and the firm of McKim, Mead and White, all contributed to plans for the Chicago’s World Fair. Burnham's "White City," as it came to be called, quickly popularized the neoclassical beaux-arts style in American architectural design.

Burnham was born in Henderson, New York and raised in Chicago, Illinois. His parents brought him up under the teachings of the Swedenborgian Church of New Jerusalem, which ingrained in him the strong belief that man should strive to be of service to others. After failing admissions tests for both Harvard and Yale, and an unsuccessful stint at politics, Burnham apprenticed as a draftsman under William LeBaron Jenney. At age 26, Burnham moved on to the Chicago offices of Carter, Drake, and Wight, where he met future business partner John Wellborn Root (1850–1891).

Burnham and Root were the architects of one of the first American skyscrapers: the Masonic Temple Building in Chicago. Measuring 21 stories and 302 feet, the Temple held claims as the tallest building of its time, but was torn down in 1939. Under the design influence of Root, the firm had produced modern buildings as part of the Chicago School. Following Root’s premature death from pneumonia in 1891, the firm became known as D.H. Burnham & Company.

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 not die.”

— Daniel H. Burnham