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.
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.
- 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
Thank President Obama for making Pullman a National Monument!
Today, President Obama designated a portion of Chicago’s Pullman Historic District a National Monument, making it the Windy City’s first unit of the National Park Service. The move comes after decades of work by residents and supporters to protect and promote the historic neighborhood that sits 13 miles south of downtown Chicago.
Thursday, February 19, the following ad will appear in the Chicago Tribune. Let us know if you spot it!
Written by Jennifer Sandy, Project Manager
Great news – President Obama will visit Pullman Historic District next Thursday, February 19, in order to designate a portion of the neighborhood as a National Monument, according to White House officials! Designation would culminate years of bipartisan efforts to recognize this nationally significant community on Chicago’s South Side and would be a huge “win” for this National Treasure. Here’s some news coverage- stay tuned for more!
Written by Jennifer Sandy, Project Manager
An innovative partnership to bring new artist housing to the Pullman Historic District has received a grant from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, PullmanArts, and Artspace are collaborating on a design competition for new artist live/work space in the historic neighborhood.
This is a great opportunity to continue Pullman’s long tradition of artistic creativity while revitalizing the neighborhood and designing sensitive infill structures.
The overall goals of the project are to honor the history of Pullman, attract artists to live there, create a space that spurs creativity, and integrate the building(s) into the community.
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.