National Mall is Design Knockoff of Inspired By Chicago Exhibition

Here is another Chicago connection for this inauguration: The Mall is a knockoff of the 1893 Columbia Exhibition in Chicago. Blair Kamin writes in the Chicago Tribune:

The design leaders of the 1893 fair, Burnham and New York City architect Charles McKim, served as advisers to Michigan Senator James McMillan and his Senate Park Commission. It issued the so-called McMillan Plan of 1901-02 that essentially gave us the National Mall as we know it today.

Among the plan's ideas that were carried out: Creating a primary axis down the center of the Mall from the Capitol to a traffic circle along the Potomac River, 2¼ miles to the west; building a memorial to Abraham Lincoln, protector of the Union, at the western end; inserting a reflecting pool between the tributes to George Washington and Lincoln; and establishing a secondary north-south axis from the White House to what would become the Jefferson Memorial.

The overall framework of the Mall, which is sure to appear in countless television shots Tuesday, remains unshaken and immutable, firmly rooted in the landscape of Chicago.



Chicago Tribune

UPDATE: Blair Kamin says my headline is misleading.

The story [on which I based my post] does not suggest that the Mall is a "knock-off" of the fair. Nor does it say, as one writer implies, that Daniel Burnham designed the mall from scratch. What the story says is that Burnham and other planners used lessons learned from the fair to transform the Mall into the impressive public space that millions of people saw today.

My apologies to Mr. Kamin.

Tags: Barack Obama | Chicago