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Exhibition Shows the Swagger and the Social Conscience of a Previous Era of Planning

It's rare for an entire exhibition to be devoted to the practice and history of planning. This is a big one.
July 9, 2019, 9am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Administration building at the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, on opening day, May 1, 1893
Everett Historical

An exhibition devoted to a previous era of ambitious planning is showing this summer at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, according to an article by Ezra Harber Glenn.

"'Big Plans: Picturing Social Reform' (on display through September 15) recounts the story of large-scale civic improvement plans in New York, Boston, and Chicago, and the dual births of the professions of urban planning and landscape architecture that emerged from these early successes," according to Glenn.

Luminaries like Frederick Law Olmsted and Daniel Burnham are heavily featured. According to Glenn, the exhibition is characterized by the "ever-present echo of Burnham’s famous commandment to 'make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized.'"

Glenn also notes how the plans of the era were intended to cure social ills—a point punctuated by the exhibition's transition from massive maps, drawings, and renderings, to the personal, human photos of Lewis Wickes Hine, who "used his camera to document and publicize poor working conditions and slum life" and helped end child labor.

A lot more detail on the exhibition, which includes a lot of the images and maps shown in the exhibition, is included in the source article.

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Published on Monday, July 8, 2019 in CityLab
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