February 19, 2015

Big Win at Pullman Historic District, Now a National Monument!

The Administration Building's clock tower was restored after a 1998 fire.

Moments ago, 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 to protect and promote the historic neighborhood by community members and supporters who joined elected officials and the president himself to celebrate the announcement in the heart of Pullman this afternoon.

Built in 1880 for laborers of the Pullman Palace Car Company, Pullman quickly became a model for company towns across the nation. The 300-acre community 13 miles south of downtown Chicago includes historic factory buildings, community buildings, and residences. From its divisive labor strike in 1894 to its connection to the first all African-American union in the country, Pullman’s historical significance spans from labor rights to civil rights and from industrial history to urban planning.

Since it was included on our America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list in 1999, the National Trust has worked to celebrate and preserve the Pullman Historic District.

George Pullman, owner of the Pullman Palace Car Company, believed that a safe, attractive location for his business and its town would attract better workers.

In 2014, the Trust included the community in our portfolio of National Treasures. Early that same year, it joined a coalition advocating to include Pullman as a unit of the National Park System. Since then, over 3,000 people took action and contacted their elected officials in support of that goal. Hundreds of others showed their support at a public meeting in August with National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, and at the 41st annual Historic Pullman House Tour this past October.

This designation of Pullman has been supported by elected leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties, including current Governor Bruce Rauner; former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn; Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk; Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; and Illinois Rep. Robin Kelly.

Today’s designation gives official recognition and protection to what has long been one of our nation’s most significant historic places. Moving forward, Pullman will serve as a model for how urban national parks can attract visitors while boosting economic development.

George Pullman named the town's Hotel Florence after one of his daughters.

A report by the National Parks Conservation Association estimates that by its 10th full year of operation, Pullman National Monument will attract more than 300,000 visitors each year; create 350 jobs annually; pay $15 million in annual wages; and sustain $40 million in economic activity, mostly due to visitor spending.

President Obama’s designation of Pullman marks the 14th time he has used the Antiquities Act to protect places that help tell the story of our diverse national heritage. The Antiquities Act serves as an important preservation and conservation tool, though it is currently under threat in Congress. You can learn more about why we support the Antiquities Act here.

Please join us in celebrating the new Pullman National Monument by thanking President Obama!

Join the movement to save and sustain historic African American places. The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund will help every American see themselves, their history, and their potential in our collective story and national cultural landscape.

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