Theses Master's

Chicago's Lakefront Park System: A Study of the Burnham Plan and Its Implementation

Radnis, Kellie Marie

Portions of Chicago’s lakefront have been reserved as public open space since the early nineteenth century.  Daniel Burnham, in his seminal 1909 Plan of Chicago, envisioned a lakefront park system that would encircle the city. He put great emphasis on the lakefront, stating that it should serve as a respite for the city’s hard working citizens. Over the years Chicago’s city officials and planners have taken the idea of a lakefront park system very seriously, and today twenty-six out of the city’s thirty miles of lakefront are public open space. However, since the creation of the first lakefront park in 1836 there has been substantial development adjacent to the lakefront: Lake Shore Drive has gone from a small pedestrian right-of-way to a multi-lane freeway, the city has created substantial public transit infrastructure, the population of Chicago has grown exponentially, and the built environment has changed dramatically. Chicago prides itself on its lakefront park system, but this thesis argues that the lakefront has not been treated as the crown jewel the city believes it is. This thesis examines current lakefront park usage and perceptions through existing spatial data, observational surveys and photographs, online survey responses, interviews with Park District officials, and three case studies.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Irazabal Zurita, Clara E.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 17, 2015