“Shelf Life” is a podcast from the Newberry Library about the humanities–and the humans behind them. Each episode features a new conversation with librarians, curators, and researchers about anything from the history of fake news to the secret lives of famous American authors.
Daniel Burnham may have made Chicago beautiful. But Edward Brennan made it logical.
The unsung hero of Chicago urban planning was a concerned citizen who obsessively brainstormed ideas to make the city easier to navigate and live in. His proposals, once adopted, became features of the city we take for granted today but can’t live without, like the standardized directional numbering system for addresses and the fact that Chicago no longer has 13 streets called Washington. In this episode, we speak with Bill Savage, a scholar of Chicago history, about why Brennan is so important, why Burnham is overrated, and how you can read the city like a text.
Intro music: “Two Types of Awakenings” by Nheap