Swedenborgian Church of North America Swedenborgian Church of North America

Daniel Burnham, 1846-1912

An architect and city planner who created a model of a Swedenborgian heavenly city here on Earth

Daniel Burnham, 1846-1912, a renowned Chicago architect, was a pioneer in both skyscraper design and city planning. A lifelong Swedenborgian (and grandson of a Swedenborgian minister) he attended Swedenborgian schools as a boy and teenager.

After completing an architecture apprenticeship, he joined a firm and met fellow trainee John W. Root, who shared Burnham’s enthusiasm for Swedenborgian ideas. They formed Burnam and Root, which became the leading architectural firm in Chicago, responsible for some of the most admired buildings of the renowned Chicago school, among them the Monadnock Building and Masonic Temple. After Root’s death in 1891, Burnham designed the famous Flatiron Building, New York’s’ first skyscraper, and Union Station in Washington, DC.

It was in the realm of city planning, however, that Burnham realized his greatest and most enduring achievements and it is there that the inspiration of Swedenborgian ideas is most profoundly imbedded. Burnham supervised construction of the great Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, creating the “White City” as an ideal model for a modern city. His work, which strived to realize Swedenborg’s heavenly city in stone, steel and concrete, has shaped much of twentieth century America’s urban landscape.