Chicago celebrates planning and architecture like no place else.

The Architectural Foundation has 400 volunteer docents leading tours crisscrossing the city on land and water. I took two of the tours last week.

From Louis Sullivan to Mies van der Rohe to Frank Lloyd Wright to Renzo Piano, this is the place.

When the public library launched its “One Book One Chicago” campaign it picked “The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City”.

What was the idea of these plans? Here’s how some panels at the Architectural Foundation tell it:

But can an urban plan really bring order out of chaos? You’d have to be Albert Speer to believe that.

Planning and architecture are part of it, but cities’ problems are as readily addressed as economic, cultural, public safety, environmental and educational challenges. It’s complicated.

And sometimes the results are small and surprising. At the corner of Castro and 18th, this makeshift memorial salutes a beat cop who passed away last week. I was touched by this note:

Thanks for getting me off the street. You will be missed.

Sometimes it’s the human touch, one person caring about another, that can best address chaos.

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