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The City Beautiful Movement

Anthony DelRosario Natural Landscape and Built Form Professor Mark Thomas Master in Preservation Studies Tulane School of Architecture

LNSP 3300 - Natural Landscape and Built Form Mark Thomas November 10, 2010

The City Beautiful movement was a nationwide trend in landscaping at the turn of the 20th century led by architects and landscape architects to make cities in America as appealing as cities in Europe. The movement had its origins in the comprehensive planning ideas of Frank Law Olmstead. In addition to its landscaping and architectural concepts, the City Beautiful movement also had social and political aspects.

European Inspiration
The City Beautiful movement began as an attempt to bring American cities to a cultural parity with European counterparts using the Beaux-Arts style. Many of the top architects in the United States practicing during the second half of the 19th century had been trained at the cole Nationale Suprieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France including Richard Morris Hunt, Charles Follen McKim (of McKim, Mead, & White), and Henry Hobson Richardson. The Beaux-Arts style, considered dignified and beautiful, was embodied by such European architectural monuments as Nouvel Opra de Paris (Fig. 1) by Charles Garnier in Paris, France and Palais de Justice (Fig. 2) by Joseph Poelaert in Brussels, Belgium. The City Beautiful movement also looked to examples in Europe of broad public squares and avenues surrounded by buildings in a coordinated architectural style such as Trafalgar Square (Fig. 3) in London, England; Place Dom Pedro (Fig. 4) in Lisbon, Portugal; Place de la Concorde, Avenue des Champs-lyses, the Louvre, and Palais Royal (Fig. 5) in Paris, France; and Unter den Linden (Fig. 6) in Berlin, Germany. (groupplan.dhellison.com)

Anthony DelRosario Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

LNSP 3300 - Natural Landscape and Built Form Mark Thomas November 10, 2010

Fig. 1: Nouvel Opra de Paris

Fig. 2: Palais de Justice, Brussels

Fig. 3: Trafalgar Square, London

Fig. 4: Place Dom Pedro, Lisbon

Fig. 5: Palais Royal, Paris

Fig. 6: Unter den Linden, Berlin

Anthony DelRosario Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

LNSP 3300 - Natural Landscape and Built Form Mark Thomas November 10, 2010

City Beautiful as Reform


The City Beautiful movement also began as a response to problems from the urban growth in America brought on by the industrial revolution. Due to the many technological advances of the 19th century, the population in urban areas began to overtake the population in rural areas. With this increased population came an increase in crime and unhealthy living conditions largely in tenements. Social upheaval was seen in Chicago's Haymarket Riot of 1886, the 1893 depression, and the Homestead strike of 1892. (Rose) Reform ideas began to form with the middle and upper-middle classes, not out of empathy but out of fear. With the advent of improved transportation and roadways, the middle and upper-middle class retreated from the cities into the suburbs, leaving the less well-to-do and the downright poverty-stricken to the quickly decaying urban center. (Rose) They saw the poor as morally deficient, and by extension civically deficient. They believed the emphasis should be on creating a beautiful city, which would in turn inspire its inhabitants to moral and civic virtue. (Rose)

The White City as Model


The 1893 Worlds Fair Columbian Exhibition (Fig. 10) in Chicago served as a full scale model of a new urban Utopia using the Beaux-Arts principles of symmetry, balance, and splendor. The fair celebrated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's 1492 arrival in the New World. Frederick Law Olmsted, the top landscape architect of the era, was chosen as site designer of fairgrounds. Local architect Daniel Burnham was chosen as Director of Construction for the fair. Burnham was a partner in

Anthony DelRosario Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

LNSP 3300 - Natural Landscape and Built Form Mark Thomas November 10, 2010

the firm Burnham & Root which was one of the leaders of the Chicago School, a group of architects that was responsible for many of the early skyscrapers. The area of the fairgrounds called the Court of Honor (Fig. 7) was also known as the White City. The neoclassical buildings (Figs. 8 & 9) were made of white stucco and the grounds were illuminated with street lights powered by electricity which were in contrast to the grey urban sprawl and blight of Chicago. (Rose) Not only was the White City dignified and monumental, it was also well-run: there was no poverty and no crime (so the visitors were led to believe), there were state-of-the-art sanitation and transportation systems, and the Columbian Guard kept everyone happily in their place. (Rose)

Fig. 7: Court of Honor at Columbian Exhibition

Fig. 8: Administration Building

Fig. 9: Agricultural Building

Fig. 10: Birds Eye View of Exposition

Anthony DelRosario Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

LNSP 3300 - Natural Landscape and Built Form Mark Thomas November 10, 2010

The architecture of the Worlds Fair Columbian Exhibition set American style preference in architecture for the next 20 to 25 years. Louis Sullivan, another top architect from Chicago, designed the Transportation Building (Figs. 11 & 12) at the exhibition, but not part of the Court of Honor, in a much more modern style. He complained that the reliance on European forms and the monumental idiom set native American architecture back decades. (Rose) The fair also introduced the concept of a monumental core or civic center, an arrangement of buildings intended to inspire in their beauty and harmony, as well as the beginnings of comprehensive city planning. (Rose)

Fig. 11: Transportation Building by Louis Sullivan

Fig. 12: Doorway detail

The First Expression of City Beautiful


The first attempt to use the Beaux-Arts style displayed at the White City of the 1893 Worlds Fair Columbian Exhibition in Chicago as a definitive use of beautification was the 1901 redesign of Washington, D.C. As the new century dawned, the City Beautiful, just then coalescing as a national movement, favored piecemeal undertakings, not citywide planning. (Peterson) Known as the McMillan Plan (Fig. 13), the design was the United States first attempt at city planning. (Rose)

Anthony DelRosario Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

LNSP 3300 - Natural Landscape and Built Form Mark Thomas November 10, 2010

The Senate Park Commission brought in several people that were involved with the White City including Daniel Burnham, Director of Construction of the fair; Charles McKim who designed the Agricultural Building; and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., son successor of Frederick Law Olmsted, site designer of the fair. Using their experience at the World's Fair as a jumping-off point, the commissioners sought to accomplish a number of goals: to obtain a sense of cultural parity with Europe; to establish themselves as cultural and societal leaders in the rapidly growing professional class; to revitalize Washington D.C.'s monumental core as an expression of continuity with the founding fathers as well as an expression of governmental legitimacy in a changing and confusing era of expansion; and finally, to utilize the beauty of the monumental center as a means of social control and civic amelioration. (Rose)

Fig. 13: The McMillan Plan (Daniel Burnham's 1901 plan for Washington, D.C.)

Anthony DelRosario Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

LNSP 3300 - Natural Landscape and Built Form Mark Thomas November 10, 2010

The plan looked monumental core, what would become the National Mall, which invoked European and classical forms in order to legitimize the power of the planners, the growing government, and America in the international arena. (Rose) The plan was hoped to build civic and national pride which would improve the city's and nation's economic and social problems. (Rose) When presented with the estimated budget, President Theodore Roosevelt expressed concerns of the cost, and today the legacy of the City Beautiful movement in Washington D.C., and throughout the country, is being felt even today in debates over city beautification versus economic redevelopment. (Rose)

Burnhams Wide Influence


As Director of Construction of the Columbian Exposition and member of the team that completed the 1901 Plan for Washington, D.C., Daniel Burnham became the architect of choice for several cities interested in creating a new city plan for a new century. Burnham, along with John Carrre and Arnold Brunner, conceived a design for Cleveland (Fig. 14) called the Group Plan of 1903. The Group Plan of Cleveland is the earliest and the most fully realized plan for a major city outside of Washington, D.C. and remains one of the best extant examples of the City Beautiful Movement. (clevelandmemory.org) In 1904 the United States government sent Burnham to the Philippine Islands to modernize Manilla (Fig. 15), the capital city, and a second smaller city, Baguio, to be used as the summer capital. (burnhamplan100.lib.uchicago.edu)

Anthony DelRosario Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

LNSP 3300 - Natural Landscape and Built Form Mark Thomas November 10, 2010

Burnham also created a plan for San Francisco (Fig. 16) that was abandoned after the 1906 fire and later partially adapted for the civic center. Burnhams most ambitious design for a city was the Plan of Chicago (Fig. 17). Burnham envisioned a new Chicago as a Paris on the Prairie with French inspired public works constructions, fountains and boulevards radiating from a central, domed municipal palace. (architechgallery.com) The Plan of Chicago was the first comprehensive plan for the controlled growth of an American city. (biographybase.com)

Fig. 14: Cleveland

Fig. 15: Manila

Fig. 16: Civic Center, San Francisco

Fig. 17: Chicago

Anthony DelRosario Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

LNSP 3300 - Natural Landscape and Built Form Mark Thomas November 10, 2010

Local Influence
In New Orleans, the City Beautiful movement was not utilized as an overall city plan. However, the Beaux-Arts style was reflected in a handfull of buildings. The Peristyle (1907) (Fig. 19) and the Isaac Delgado Museum of Art (1911) (Fig. 18), now the New Orleans Museum of Art, are two examples found in City Park. A third example of the style can be found in the French Quarter, the Louisiana State Supreme Court building (1910) (Fig. 20).

Fig. 18: Delgado Museum of Art

Fig. 19: Peristyle

Fig. 20: Louisiana State Supreme Court

Anthony DelRosario Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

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LNSP 3300 - Natural Landscape and Built Form Mark Thomas November 10, 2010

The Waning Years of the Movement


The City Beautiful movement, birthed in 1893 at the Worlds Fair Columbian Exhibition, began to fade during the mid-1910s as World War I captured the countrys attention. By this time, many leaders of the movement had retired or had died such as Burnham who had passed away in 1912. However, some cities that were relatively young, western, (and) rapidly growing had significant commercial and transportation activity that kept the movement alive. (Wilson, 5) Among these cities were Denver, Oklahoma City (Fig. 21), and Kansas City (Fig. 22).

Fig. 21: Oklahoma City Outerparkway Plan

Fig. 22: Union Station, Kansas City

Conclusion
The City Beautiful movement continues to influence the city planning methods of today without the limit of the Beaux-Arts style. In addition to architecture and landscape influences, the reform ideas of the City Beautiful movement continue to have an impact on the socio-political discussions of today.

Anthony DelRosario Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

LNSP 3300 - Natural Landscape and Built Form Mark Thomas November 10, 2010

Sources
"Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846-1912)."
<http://www.architechgallery.com/arch_info/artists_pages/daniel_burnham_bio.html>.

"Daniel Burnham Biography." <http://www.biographybase.com/biography/Burnham_Daniel.html>.

"Daniel Burnham's Enduring Vision for the Philippines." <http://burnhamplan100.lib.uchicago.edu/events/id/1403/>.

Peterson, Jon A. "The Senate Park Commission Plan for Washington, D.C.: A New Vision for the Capital and the Nation."
<http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/ncr/designing-capital/sec1.html>.

Rose, Julie K. "City Beautiful: The 1901 Plan for Washington D.C." <http://xroads.virginia.edu/~cap/citybeautiful/city.html>.

"The Cleveland Group Plan of1903." <http://www.clevelandmemory.org/groupplan/>.

The Group Plan. <http://groupplan.dhellison.com>.

Wilson, William H. The City Beautiful Movement: Creating the North American Landscape. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989.

Anthony DelRosario Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

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LNSP 3300 - Natural Landscape and Built Form Mark Thomas November 10, 2010

Image Credits
Figure 1 Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, <http://digital.library.northwestern.edu/siege/docs/PAR00909.html> Figure 2 <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Palace_of_Justice_postcard.jpg> Figure 3 Sights and Scenes of the World, Chicago: Conkey Publishing, 1894. via The D.H. Ellison Co., <http://groupplan.dhellison.com/precedents.php?ss=European > Figure 4 Sights and Scenes of the World Figure 5 Sights and Scenes of the World Figure 6 Sights and Scenes of the World Figure 7 "The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893," Paul V. Galvin Library Digital History Collection, Illinois Institute of Technology, <http://columbus.gl.iit.edu> Figure 8 "The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893" Figure 9 "The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893" Figure 10 "The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893" Figure 11 "The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893" Figure 12 "The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893" Figure 13 National Capital Planning Commission, <http://www.ncpc.gov/Images/Album_InspiredVisions/simages/pages/IV_McMilla n_jpg.htm> Figure 14 THE 1903 REPORT OF THE GROUP PLAN COMMISSION, to the Honorable Tom L. Johnson, Mayor, and the Honorable Board of Public Service via The D.H. Ellison Co., <http://grouplan.dhellison.com> Figure 15 Malaya Business News Online, <http://archive.malaya.com.ph/2010/May/05172010/liv2.html> Figure 16 Aerograph Co., Oakland, California, "Aeroplane View of City Hall and Civic Center, San Francisco, California ," in Environmental Design Archives Exhibitions, Item #181, <http://169.229.205.173/cedarchives/exhibitions/items/show/181> Figure 17 <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Burnham_1909_chicago_plan.jpg>
Anthony DelRosario Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

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LNSP 3300 - Natural Landscape and Built Form Mark Thomas November 10, 2010

Figure 18 Hikaru Iwasaki, Online Archive of California, <http://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/ft0r29n61d/?brand=oac4 > Figure 19 <www.linngroveiowa.org/New%20Orleans%20Peristyle%20City%20Park.jpg> Figure 20 Fifth Circuit Law Library Figure 21 imagiNATIVEamerica.com, <http://imaginativeamerica.com/okchistory/dunn_1910/img_dunn1910_005b_pos ter.pdf> Figure 22 - Carol M. Highsmith, <http://blog.aia.org/mt-tb.cgi/214>

Anthony DelRosario Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

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