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Pullman's last days and legacy

George M. Pullman and his company changed after a U.S. Government commission investigated the Pullman Palace Car Company, the Pullman strike and the management of the company town. In late 1894, the Supreme Court declared the company violated workers' civil rights and ordered it to separate itself from the town. Chicago annexed the town, and it became the community of Pullman.

Skyscrapers in Chicago
Photo by Elaine C. Shigley

Three years later at the age of 66, Pullman died of a heart attack in Chicago. Detailed steps were taken to protect his grave from vandals. His mahogany casket was sealed in concrete and placed inside a concrete-lined grave. The Graceland Cemetery site was designed by Sloan Spencer Beman and displays a Corinthian column with a carved stone bench on either side.

Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln, became president of Pullman Palace Car Company from 1897 until 1911. He was chairman of the board until 1922. The company became Pullman-Standard in 1930 after it merged with Standard Steel Car Company. It built its last car for Amtrak in 1982. After the plant shutdown, it remained abandoned until company assets were absorbed by Bombardier Incorporated in 1987.

Pullman bequeathed $1.2 million to build Pullman Tech for children of the Pullman Palace Car Company’s workers and residents of Pullman. After the school closed in 1949, it was replaced by the George M. Pullman Education Foundation of Chicago in 1950. The foundation provides high school seniors with merit-based scholarships to the college of their choice. Since 1950, $30 million has been awarded to over 11,000 Cook County seniors.

Pullman, Washington was named for Pullman. The Pullman Memorial Universalist Church, founded in 1894 in Albion, New York, was supported by Pullman as a memorial to his parents.

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