A Quote from the Past Inspires the Future

I love to explore the connectedness of people through our history and to make it relevant to something that is topical and related to Henry Ford Hospital.

Some of you know that one of the quotes that inspires me and that I have sitting above my desk is by Daniel Hudson Burnham.

Burnham was an American architect and urban designer in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

WORLD'S COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION, Chicago 1893. Architects by Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted. Photo shows the Lagoon with statues and Agricultural Building on right.

World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago 1893. Architects by Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted. Photo shows the Lagoon with statues and Agricultural Building on right.


He was the father of the Chicago School of Architecture and co-authored the Chicago Plan of 1909, which laid out plans for that city’s future. He was also the Director of Works for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago (often called the “Chicago World’s Fair”).

You may have heard about Burnham from the book “Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson.

The book is set in Chicago around 1893, intertwining the true story of Burnham and the 1893 World’s Fair with the also true story of Dr. H.H. Holmes, a serial killer.

An entertaining book, that you may have also heard is being made into a feature film to be directed by Martin Scorsese to star Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Holmes.

So what is the connection with Henry Ford Hospital?

Burnham designed several buildings in city of Detroit, notably two buildings on Griswold, the Dime Building (now owned by Dan Gilbert) and the Ford Building.

According to Wikipedia, the design of the David Whitney building was by “Graham, Burnham & Co.,” the successor firm to the D.H. Burnham Company.

It may be said that the building was designed in the “Daniel Burnham style,” or perhaps, “inspired by Daniel Burnham.”

The Grand Circus Park stop of the People Mover is at the David Whitney Building.

Dr. Frank Sladen

Dr. Frank Sladen. From the Conrad R. Lam Collection, Henry Ford Health System. ID=01-013

Henry Ford Hospital’s first physician, Dr. Frank Sladen, established his first practice, a private practice, in the David Whitney Building.

It was there that Mr. Ford’s secretary, Ernest Liebold, met with Dr. Sladen to confirm his financial records, which forced Mr. Liebold to increase his salary offer to Dr. Sladen to become the first physician hired by Henry Ford Hospital and, thus, the first member of what we call today the Henry Ford Medical Group.

So, I will agree it is a very tangential connection, but it does give me an opportunity to print the Burnham quote that has inspired me, especially in thinking of the next century of Henry Ford Hospital:

“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will themselves not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistence. Remember that our sons and grandsons (our daughters and granddaughters- my own edit) are going to do things that would stagger us.”


If you have a quote that’s inspired you and your work, please share it in the comments section below!

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