Daniel Hudson Burnham (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: Energetic and practical, Burnham was master of the utilitarian, technical, and financial aspects of architecture. He made important contributions to the development of the American skyscraper form, the organization of the modern architectural office, and the encouragement of comprehensive urban and regional planning.
The son of Edwin Burnham, later a wholesale merchant of drugs, and Elizabeth Weeks Burnham, the daughter of a Swedenborgian minister, Daniel Hudson Burnham was born on September 4, 1846, near Henderson, New York. He moved to Chicago with his family when he was nine years old. An indifferent student, he received his education in the city schools, excelling only in freehand drawing. Burnham was then sent to Bridgewater, Massachusetts, to study with a private tutor. There, his interest in architecture and his talent for drawing became increasingly apparent.
After failing the entrance examinations of both Harvard and Yale, Burnham returned to Chicago in 1868. For short periods, he tried one thing after another—clerking in a Chicago retail store, mining for gold in Nevada, and running unsuccessfully for a seat in the Illinois senate. Burnham’s dissatisfactions with these undertakings led his father to seek advice from William Le Baron Jenney (1832-1907), one of Chicago’s leading architects. Shortly thereafter, Burnham became an apprentice in Jenney’s architectural...
(The entire section is 2025 words.)
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