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


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 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.

Posted on June 23, 2014

JSandy headshotPullman Garden TourWritten by Jennifer Sandy, Project Manager

Summer has finally arrived, and it’s a perfect time to visit Pullman!  This Saturday, June 28, is your chance to visit some of the community’s private gardens as part of the “Pullman Garden Walk – A Tea and Tour,” hosted by the Historic Pullman Garden Club and co-sponsored by the Historic Pullman Foundation and Pullman State Historic Site

Visitors can enjoy guided or self-guided walking tours of the historic district featuring public and private gardens, plus the district’s newest addition-- a community food garden.  One of the highlights is Gateway Garden, a partnership with NeighborSpace and the Chicago Botanic Gardens, which allowed the community to transform an empty lot into a haven for butterflies and bees. 

And you won’t go hungry -- tickets include a light tea with sandwiches and sweets.  You can reserve tickets for $12 in advance by emailing or purchase $15 tickets on the day of the event, which kicks off at the Historic Pullman Visitor Center, 11141 South Cottage Grove Avenue, Chicago.  

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 May 15, 2014

Written by Jennifer Sandy, Project ManagerBeman Committee landmarks award May 2014JSandy headshot

Pullman residents take great pride in their neighborhood’s architectural character, so it’s no surprise that the Beman Committee of the Pullman Civic Organization has developed innovative ways to record and preserve that heritage.  Today I was delighted to join the Beman Committee as they were honored for one of those creative initiatives, the Façade Legacy Project, at the Chicago Landmark Awards.  At a ceremony in the beautiful Chicago Cultural Center this morning, the project was recognized with the Commission’s highest honor, the 2014 John Baird Award for Stewardship in Historic Preservation.

The Façade Legacy Project is a remarkable effort by the Beman Committee to document the original architectural details of every home in Pullman.  Considering there are over 600 homes in South Pullman alone, this has been quite an undertaking! 

Beman Committee members and volunteers spent several years documenting each home in South Pullman, meticulously researching the original façade details, and compiling this information into an easy-to-use online database for homeowners.  

As part of this project, the National Trust supported the creation of AutoCAD drawings of Pullman’s original façade, window, porch, and door styles with a grant from the Donnelly Preservation Fund, facilitating easy access to detailed measured drawings for all Pullman homeowners.  

This is just one more tool in the Beman Committee’s comprehensive arsenal of resources for Pullman residents, including an online Homeowner Guide and an annual Façade Reimbursement Program for historically-appropriate exterior repairs.  They plan to expand the Façade Legacy Project to North Pullman in the coming year, and hope to create a series of hands-on workshops for property owners to learn preservation-friendly repair techniques.

Congratulations to the Beman Committee and their army of volunteers and supporters for this well-deserved recognition! 

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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