Pullman - Historic Image

photo by: Library of Congress

National Treasures

Pullman Historic District

  • Constructed: 1880
  • Architect: Solon S. Beman & Nathan Barrett
  • Location: Chicago, Illinois

Thirteen miles south of downtown Chicago, the model industrial town founded by George Pullman in the late 19th century remains largely intact. On Thursday, February 19, President Obama personally visited Pullman in order to designate the community as Pullman National Monument, affirming the national significance of Pullman and the many American stories it tells. The National Trust has been involved with efforts to preserve and promote Pullman for over a decade, and we applaud the President’s decisive action on behalf of this National Treasure.

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. Pullman National Monument is now raising 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

Success!

On Thursday, February 19, President Obama personally visited Pullman in order to designate the community as Pullman National Monument, affirming the national significance of Pullman and the many American stories it tells.

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