“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will themselves not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die.” ~Daniel Burnham, American architect and urban planner, 1846-1912
How much do you know about your hometown? Could you tell somebody about its history? Do you take advantage of what it has to offer in the way of entertainment, architecture, parks, and all of the other good stuff? Do you feel comfortable exploring the entire area, as opposed to staying in the cocoon of your neighborhood? Do you know anything about the men and women for whom your town’s most famous streets are named?
When I was in the process of writing my book (you know, the one that answers the age-old question “What can I do in Chicago with tweens and teens?”), I decided that it would be a really good idea to include a section that detailed “a brief history of Chicago”. That concept in itself still makes me laugh: the history of Chicago is deep, rich, colorful, interesting, exciting, mind-boggling, and so many other things, but it’s certainly not brief. (Sidenote: I think I did a really good job editing it down for the book, FYI!)
I read several books as a part of my research. By far, my favorite and the one I consider to have been the most valuable, not only as it relates to my book but also as it relates to me as a Chicago native, is this one:
Learning all about how Chicago was painstakingly rebuilt–literally from the ground up–after the Great Fire of 1871 was fascinating. Reading the stories behind William Butler Ogden, Charles Wacker, George Pullman, Marshall Field, Cyrus McCormick, and so many others who played integral parts in the re-creation of the city I adore, but especially Daniel Burnham himself (whose quote at the top, my favorite, could be a fancier way of declaring my own life philosophy, “Go big or go home”, don’t you think?), gave me a whole new appreciation for, well, lots of things. The book was like a puzzle piece I had no idea was missing. Since reading it, I haven’t looked at Chicago the same way, am an even prouder city native because of it, and am even more enthusiastic about sharing the city, my city, with others than I was before.
My friend Margaret called my attention to this beautiful tourism video. It makes my heart swell. Check it out.
Now tell me something fascinating about your hometown!