Chicago’s 50th community, Pullman, is bounded by the Rock Island Railroad tracks to the north, 115th Street to the south, Lake Calumet to the east and the Illinois Central Railroad tracks to the west. Its neighborhoods are Cottage Grove Heights and Pullman.
George Mortimer Pullman’s Pullman Land Association assisted by Colonel James Bowen purchased 4,000 acres along the shores of Lake Calumet in the 1870s. He commissioned architects Solon Beman and Nathan Barrett to design a factory and town. He provided brick homes, schools, parks, a library, a theater, educational programs and recreational activities for the workers in his Pullman Palace Car Company factory. He also planned that this community would provide his company with a 6% profit. In 1881, the first residents moved in, and in 1884, the State Labor Commission labeled the community a success.
The Panic of 1893 and the following Depression caused Pullman’s company to reduce wages but not the rents and dividends in Pullman. The result was a strike by Pullman workers in 1894. In 1898, the Illinois Supreme Court ordered the company to divest itself from the residential property. The 1930s Depression caused further decline. In 1960, residents fought the South End Chamber of Commerce’s plan to demolish part of Pullman, and the Pullman Civic Organization removed signs of ruin and petitioned for the neighborhood. Pullman was declared a city, state and national landmark (1971). In 1973, the Historic Pullman Foundation was created.
Today the Historic Pullman District is a diverse, thriving community. Some of its residents have lived in the community for five generations. Walking tours of the Clock Tower, Market Square, Hotel Florence, Greenstone Church and the “Polish Cathedrals” are available.
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