Book Looks at How Women Could Have Changed Chicago
Byline: Marie Wilson email@example.com
While historians across Chicago and the suburbs are celebrating the centennial of Daniel Burnham and Edward BennettAEs Plan of Chicago, at least one person is looking at the set of documents through a more skeptical lens.
Janice Metzger, 59, is the author of "What Would Jane Say?" a book that explores what women activists of the early 1900s would have contributed to the plan. It is published by Lake Claremont Press.
"One thing that struck me early on was people seem to really revere the Burnham plan," said Karen Stonehouse, president of the Wheaton-based Illinois chapter of the American Planning Association. "I think folks havenAEt necessarily thought about some of the things that should have been in there."
The plan focused on Chicago, but outlined ideas for forest preserve land that surrounds the city in Cook and DuPage counties. It also listed preliminary thoughts for the highway and tollway systems that connect the suburbs and the city.
MetzgerAEs book adds five aspects of urban life u housing and neighborhood development, immigration and labor, justice, education and public health u to the topics of transportation and park system development already covered in the plan. She wrote most of the book in a style called speculative nonfiction. She used direct quotes and paraphrases from the published views of women such as Jane Addams, Julia Lathrop and Lucy Flower to describe how she thinks they would have felt about civic and social issues.
"Jane and the settlement folks really decided to be of the people, living with the immigrants and taking on their struggles," said Metzger, of Chicago. "The Burnham Plan is really above the people, even the drawings show that; theyAEre these birdAEs-eye views. The plan is about the physical characteristics of the land, itAEs not about the people."
Metzger said Burnham planned large scale, focusing on roadway, highway, freight and park systems, while Addams and other women made small-scale improvements to neighborhood parks, child care and community health. …