San Francisco 1905 (Burnham plan)

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October 7, 2011 · No Comments

Whether by good fortune or accident, four West-coast girls were assigned to work together to review Daniel Burnham’s 1905 San Francisco Plan. Our experiences in San Francisco have been varied; two of us have lived in/around the city (Katie & Meera) while two of us have only been visitors (Eliza & Molly) But, we all agreed that San Francisco with its impressive natural landscape, Victorian architecture and bustling neighborhoods, lends itself to the feeling that the city has something ‘special’ about it.

At the turn of the century, Daniel Burnham was commissioned to create a plan for San Francisco that would lend itself to such a special “feeling.” That feeling was to connote¬†a sense of grandeur, one that would imitate the great cities of Europe.¬†Although Burnham’s plan was never fully realized, one can still see elements of his style and artform of “beautification” scattered throughout the city – San Francisco City Hall and numerous hillside parks to name a few.

As you begin your journey through the site, we invite you to consider Burnham’s closing comments from the plan and ask yourself (as we did) if this plan had been implemented – what would have been? Would such a plan still invoke that special feeling that we have all experienced as 21st century observers of the city ? Or would San Francisco be a very different place than it is today?

“What people have needed is an ideal with which to nourish their imagination and give them a goal towards which to labor with confidence.”

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