What does these three cities have in common?
All hired an American urban planner by the name of Daniel Burnham. In Manila and Baguio, he was appointed by his government after they annexed the country. The Chicago local also worked on urban blueprints for cities like Washington D.C., San Francisco and Cleveland.
That area, just outside Intramuros, where those neo classical building stands (creations of pioneering Filipino architects, most notable was Juan Arellano) was built following Burnham’s urban plan.
Burnham envisioned an improved city representing his America. Wide roads, scenic boulevard, spacious parks, gardens and imposing government offices.
Among the topics he tackled in his 1905 plan was keeping Intramuros vibrant and attractive. Believing it would provide a wonderful historical contrast to his new Manila.
The only alteration that he proposed was for Intramuros’ moat to be covered with earth (now a golf course).
Burnham also recommended to develop the esteros to be used as pathways for commerce and transport. Unfortunately, these were never carried out. Many expert believes the plan would have eased the recurring floods in the city. Some of those esteros he saw are now gone.
A better example of Burnham’s city planning was executed to a detail in Baguio. The summer home of American military and civil employees. At the center of his plan is a gracious park and garden with a wide pond. Today, aptly called Burnham park.
Here in Chi town, Burnham not only proposed improvements in the city’s layout, he also dabbled in designing skycrapers. Now preserved and promoted by the city as Chicagoan heritage.
The scenic lakefront is a great Burnham legacy. In it lies the iconic Navy Pier (which once served as a Navy training facility and local convention center). Burnham had proposed 3 more piers for Chicago but just like what happened to his other recommendations, they were never carried out.
The famed architect was known for big, grand designs that startled his clients. Clearly, his visions was ahead of his time. Indeed, a man who had preference for making no small plans.
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