Discover / Pullman Historic District
Save a National Treasure
REGION: Midwest
LOCATION:
Chicago, IL
TYPE: Community
Administration Building | Photo by Cynthia Lynn
Administration Building | Photo by Cynthia Lynn
Opportunity
Recognize the rich social history and architectural beauty of Pullman by designating the neighborhood as a unit of the National Park System.

Overview

Thirteen miles south of downtown Chicago, the model industrial town founded by George Pullman in the late 19th century remains largely intact. While its collection of architecturally unique homes, factory buildings, and landmark structures have been the focus of revitalization efforts by the State of Illinois, City of Chicago and community groups and partner organizations for many years, designating Pullman as a unit of the National Park System would dramatically increase awareness of this historic place among heritage travelers and encourage enhanced economic development opportunities there. The Trust has joined a robust coalition advocating for designation of Pullman as a National Park, including the National Parks Conservation Association, numerous civic, business and community organizations, and elected officials at the local, state and federal level.

National Significance

George Pullman founded the nation’s first model industrial town in 1880 to attract skilled workers to his Pullman Palace Car Company, which manufactured railroad passenger cars. Designed by noted architect Solon S. Beman and landscape architect Nathan Barrett, Pullman’s 300 acres provided a healthful and attractive environment for Pullman employees and their families.  However, the company’s efforts to closely regulate residents’ behavior quickly began causing frustration. The situation came to a head in 1894 when, in response to an economic downturn, the company laid off workers and reduced wages without reducing the rent, leading to one of the most divisive labor strikes in American history. In addition, Pullman has a historic connection to the first all African-American union in the country—the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, organized by Asa Philip Randolph—which negotiated a major labor agreement with the Pullman Company in 1937 leading to better wages and hours. Many of Pullman’s iconic buildings remain, including the Administration and Factory Complex, the Hotel Florence, and the Greenstone Church, along with the vast majority of its original brick row houses. Establishing Pullman as a National Park would raise awareness of the outsize role Pullman has played in American history, while also serving as a national model for the ability of urban National Parks to revitalize historic neighborhoods.

Campaign Goals

  • Work with the National Parks Conservation Association, elected officials, community organizations, and local residents to designate Pullman as a unit of the National Park System.

Ways To Help

Help us bring greater recognition to Pullman – contact your elected official today!

Donate to our campaign to make Pullman part of the National Park System.

Posted on September 08, 2014

Pullman House Tour 2014Written by Jennifer Sandy, Project ManagerJsandy headshot

Earlier this month, we asked you to sign our petition calling for the Pullman Historic District to become a unit of the National Park system. The outpouring of support has been tremendous! Petition signatures and letters of support continue to pour in, and after a visit to Pullman last month, the Director of the National Park Service is fully supportive of park designation.

As our campaign kicks into full swing, we encourage you to come out to Pullman next month for one of the community’s biggest and most exciting events — the Annual Historic Pullman House Tour, co-sponsored by Pullman Civic Organization and Historic Pullman Foundation. The National Trust will have a special reception inside the Historic Pullman Center, offering visitors unique opportunities to learn more about the park designation and to show their support.

What: The 41st Annual Historic Pullman House Tour

When: Saturday, October 11, and Sunday, October 12, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Where: The Pullman Historic District

Tickets for the tour are $17 in advance and can be purchased online (strongly recommended), or $20 at the door.

Interested in volunteering? There are several opportunities available to help make the event a success. Please contact contact volunteer coordinator Michelle Parks using “House Tour Volunteer” as the subject line of your email.

We hope to see you there!

Please check back often for additional updates on Pullman Historic District. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.


Posted on August 22, 2014

Pullman NPS public meetingWritten by Jennifer Sandy, Project ManagerJSandy headshot

The excitement was palpable last night as a standing room only crowd chanted “402!” – calling for Pullman to become our nation’s 402nd National Park.  Over 350 people showed up to the public meeting hosted by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, along with the National Park Service, to gauge community support for making Pullman the next unit of the National Park System.  The response from the crowd was a resounding YES! 

Despite torrential downpours, supporters from across the community, city, and region came out to the meeting sporting “402” buttons and homemade signs, and many stepped up to the microphone to let NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis know that Pullman deserves National Park status. 

Speakers included U.S. Representative Robin Kelly, Alderman Anthony Beale, Illinois Historic Preservation Director Amy Martin, and Chicago Department of Planning and Development Commissioner Andrew Mooney.  Staff from Senator Durbin and Senator Kirk’s offices were also present and supportive, as were the many people and organizations that have been working for decades to protect and preserve Pullman’s history, including the Historic Pullman Foundation, Pullman Civic Organization, and the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum.  

The meeting was capped off with a surprise visit from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who told the crowd that National Park status would be the ribbon around the package of a Pullman neighborhood that is on the rise, and gave his full support for the park effort. 

What can you do to show your support for Pullman as National Park number 402? Sign our petition calling for Pullman to become a unit of the National Park system!  Join the National Trust, National Parks Conservation Association, and hundreds of other organizations in support of making Pullman Chicago’s first National Park!

Please check back often for additional updates on Pullman Historic District. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Posted on August 20, 2014


Pullman Factory Administration BuildingWritten by Jennifer Sandy, Project Manager

JSandy headshotWe have some very exciting news to share: tomorrow, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, along with the National Park Service, will be holding a Public Meeting to gauge community support for making Pullman the next unit of the National Park System!

National Monuments can be established by either Congress or by the President. Through the Antiquities Act, the President has the ability to establish or expand the designation of National Monuments on federally-owned or controlled property to protect sites, objects, and landscapes of historic, cultural, or scientific interest. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt first used the act to declare Devil’s Tower in Wyoming as a National Monument, and ever since, Presidents of both parties have used their executive power to create pillars of the Park System like the Statue of Liberty, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad, and the César E. Chávez National Monument.

Since his election, President Obama has created five new National Monuments as units of the National Park System, including Chimney Rock and Fort Monroe. With the stroke of a pen, he could do the same for the Pullman Historic District, making it our 402nd National Park!

We hope that you can attend the public meeting to voice your support. It will be held tomorrow, Thursday, August 21, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at the Pullman Administration Building/Clocktower (11111 S. Forrestville Avenue, Chicago, Illinois). No RSVP is required.

Please check back often for additional updates on Pullman Historic District. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Posted on July 07, 2014

JSandy headshotWritten by Jennifer Sandy, Project ManagerPullman row house Jane Baxter

Check out the new summer issue of Preservation Magazine -- Pullman Historic District is featured in the article “In Good Company: A coast-to-coast tour of company towns, America's twist on the feudal village.”   Many of Pullman’s long-time residents and supporters are featured in the article, which traces the community’s history from its founding as the country’s first planned model industrial town, through the labor unrest precipitated by George Pullman’s paternalistic governance, and into the twentieth century when grassroots activism saved the community from the wrecking ball.  This strong and vibrant community continues to protect and enhance Pullman today, with critical support and investment from the City of Chicago and State of Illinois.  The next step is achieving National Park status for Pullman – the focus of our National Treasure campaign. 

Show your support for the Pullman National Historical Park Act!  Contact your representatives in Congress to encourage them to support this bipartisan legislation, which has been introduced in the House and Senate.

Please check back often for additional updates on Pullman Historic District. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

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Linda Yates on January 28, 2014
Growing up in Roseland, Pullman was definitely a huge part of my childhood. I only have the best memories there. Great people who looked out for each other from all parts of the world.
Matt Cole on January 24, 2014
Chicago, for me, is a community of neighborhoods and when people ask me about special places in the city, Pullman is always one of the neighborhoods at the top of the list. There is certainly great architecture to see, but also a diverse mix of people and stories – past and present – that truly bring Pullman life. Pullman certainly has its challenges, but walking through the neighborhood one can certainly see its potential to be a vibrant, beautiful, and equitable anchor for the South Side. Pullman’s designation as a National Historic Park can only speed this process.
Denise Ryan on January 24, 2014
With Chicago’s diverse and rich history, it is long overdue for recognition and representation in the nearly 100 year old National Park System. With the establishment of Pullman National Historical Park, Chicago will join national parks in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, and San Francisco.
Jennifer on January 24, 2014
Pullman is a beautiful community with so many stories to tell. Making it Chicago’s first National Park would bring more recognition and economic development opportunities to one of the city’s hidden gems.

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