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Pullman's success

Pullman’s industrial and residential complex became a huge success. In addition to the profits from the Pullman Palace Car Company, Pullman collected profits on leases and fees from his property. The town of Pullman received national recognition. It was considered a model community with a happy, loyal workforce.

Street view of Buckingham Fountain
Photo by Elaine C. Shigley

By 1892, the town of Pullman was valued at five million dollars. Merchants rented space in the town’s shopping district and sold their goods to the company’s workers. The company automatically deducted home rentals from their employees’ paychecks. The workers seemed content with being fed, clothed and paid through the company. Residents lived with or accepted any dissatisfaction they felt. Pullman seemed to be a model community.

When the World’s Columbian Exposition opened in Chicago in 1893, the town of Pullman attracted visitors from around the world. A little more than ten miles from the fairgrounds, an excursion to Pullman delighted visitors. They admired and celebrated George M. Pullman’s foresight and generosity to his workers. They praised the beautiful administration building, Clock Tower and the lovely brick homes. They acclaimed the town as one of the most wholesome places in the world. It possessed healthy country air and fine facilities. None of the negatives in society could be found there—no agitators, no saloons and no vice districts.

George Pullman’s plan accomplished his goals. He was pleased with his project. His lifelong experiences at Cold Spring Ranch in Colorado during the Gold Rush taught him that people needed and wanted a safe, secure life. They certainly could do without crime, alcohol and strange ideas. His paternalism in an era of dehumanizing industrialization had to be superior to workers’ strikes and political agitation. He believed he knew what was best for his employees, and he wasn't completely wrong. To be continued…

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