The life of Daniel Hudson Burnham began on September 4th , 1846 in Henderson, New York. He was raised and educated in Chicago and realized his passion for architecture and organization at an early age. Over the course of his life he would inspire many architects as well as influence the progressive movement that was popular in his time. .
After a career in Politics out west had failed, Burnham moved back to Chicago and began to gain experience while working with William Le Barron Jenney. Jenney at this time was known as the "father of the skyscraper." At the age of 27 Burnham embarked on a partnership with John Root and began to make a name for their firm by designing Chicago landmarks and homes for the elite. With the help of Burnham's father in-law John Sherman, a wealthy industrialist, his firm became influential and famous. Some of the famous landmark designed by this pair included the Kent House, Monadnock Building, and the Reliance Building. When Root died prematurely from Pneumonia, Burnham took over the firm naming it D.H. Burnham & Company. .
Although Burnham was famous for his extravagant buildings such as Union Station in Washington D.C. and the Flatiron Building in New York City, he obtained a greater reputation for his work in city planning. When Burnham designed make-believe "White City" for the 1893 World Columbian Exposition, he gained international fame. The city was a representation of neo-classic architecture and consisted of grand plazas, canals, fountains, and sculptures. This event celebrated the 400 year anniversary of Columbus discovering America as well as the new relationship with Japan. Burnham granted Japan permission to create the Ho-o-den on a wooded island in the center of the exposition. It was called a "most beautifully exquisite pavilion." .
With the arrival of 1909 Burnham's career reached a whole new level. The first plan to redesign a U.S. city was produced by him.