Pullman National Monument

Pullman National Monument

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“I fought for this designation with Senator Durbin and Rep. Kelly because regardless of party, it was the right thing to do for our state. As Chicago’s first national monument, the Pullman District will bring thousands of tourists to Chicagoland every year, which will help to breathe new life into our local economies. Today I am proud that America’s first industrial town, founded by George Pullman, is receiving the recognition it deserves as a national monument,” Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL)

Few sites preserve the history of American industry, labor, and urban planning as well as the Pullman community in Chicago. Pullman honors the unique stories of America’s industrial past, including the formation of the first African-American labor union and the development of the country’s first model industrial town.

The Pullman Historic District tells rich, layered stories of American opportunity and discrimination, industrial engineering, corporate power and factory workers, new immigrants to this country and formerly enslaved people and their descendants, strikes and collective bargaining. The events and themes associated with the Pullman Company continue to resonate today as employers and workers still seek opportunities for better lives.

Chicago’s historic Pullman neighborhood is closely linked to the proud history of the American labor movement.  The stories of industrialist George Pullman and his Pullman Palace Car Company are full of moving accounts of human struggles against great odds to win workers’ rights and establish unions for better working conditions and fair wages.

Pullman was the site of one of the bloodiest labor battles in American history – the Pullman Strike of 1894 –in which many workers were wounded or lost their lives at the hands of federal and state troops.

America’s Labor Day holiday has ties to Chicago. Shortly after the deadly strike at the Pullman Palace Car Company in 1894, when U.S. Marshalls and Army troops clashed with striking rail-car workers angered by the loss of jobs and a cut in wages, disrupting passenger rail service nationwide, Congress passed legislation creating a national Labor Day holiday.

Black workers employed by the Pullman Company as porters and maids were not well represented and continued to struggle for worker’s rights.  As a result, they created the Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters, becoming the first African American labor union to secure bargaining rights, and chose A. Philip Randolph as its leader.

As a labor leader, civil rights and social justice activist, Randolph helped win labor concessions through the 1940s that paved the way for Civil Rights victories in the 1960s and 1970s.  Randolph used his influence to help create the Fair Employment Practices Commission, and later, his network of union connections helped organize the 1963 March on Washington.

The Pullman National Monument was designated on February 19, 2015 during African American History Month.

Public Input

Greetings from PullmanThe designation of the Pullman National Monument enjoyed overwhelming and active support from more than 200 organizations and businesses and 15,000 individuals,labor unions, African American leaders, economic development organizations, tourism groups, and historic preservation groups.

Creating a national monument at Pullman had strong bi-partisan support. The designation was brought about with the strong leadership and support of Chicago’s elected officials, including Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), Congresswoman Robin Kelly, Governor Bruce Rauner, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and many other state and local elected officials.

A 2013 economic report by National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the city of Chicago, the state of Illinois, and the nonprofit Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives found that a national park at Pullman would promote cultural tourism and spending, stimulate new business growth, create jobs and spur the renovation of Pullman’s historic core.  The report stated that after 10 years in operation, a national park at Pullman is expected to generate more than 300,000 visitors each year, support more than 350 jobs annually and sustain $40 million in economic activity.

After more than three years of building support in the community and in Congress, President Obama designated Chicago’s Pullman Historic Neighborhood as the city’s first national park unit on February 19, 2015.


President Barack Obama signs a proclamation regarding the establishment of the Pullman National Monument at the Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy in Chicago, Ill., Feb. 19, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama signs a proclamation regarding the establishment of the Pullman National Monument at the Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy in Chicago, Ill., Feb. 19, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)