Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL), representing Illinois' 2nd Congressional district, has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives on Jan. 27, 2014, H.R. 3929, titled the "Pullman National Historical Park Act." U.S. Senators Mark Kirk and Richard Durbin have introduced a companion bill in the United States Senate, S. 1962, also titled the "Pullman National Historical Park Act."
In the House, Kelly has garnered 28 co-sponsors for the bill, mainly from the Illinois House delegation, but including Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-IN), representing Indiana's 1st Congressional district in northwest Indiana that includes Lake County, Porter County, Gary, Merrillville and Schererville, among many towns.
"There’s growing support in Congress for the Pullman National Park bill, thanks in part to the efforts of many community leaders and residents," said U.S. Representative Robin Kelly. "Pullman’s story is America’s story. Nowhere else do the histories of the railroads, industrialization, civil rights, and the labor movement converge more intricately. The Pullman National Historical Park plan is one of those universal concepts that’s been embraced by leaders of both parties, including members of Congress, the governor, the Mayor of Chicago, and the alderman."
More detailed photo caption on left: Pictured from left to right: Carina Ruiz, Student Conservation Association; Lynn McClure, NPCA; Lee Foley, NPCA; Catherine Shannon, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency; Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL-2); Arthur Pearson, Pullman Arts; Molly Hannon, Americorps volunteer; Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th Ward, City of Chicago; Sylvia Cyrus, Association for the Study of African-American Life & History; Michael Shymanski, Historic Pullman Foundation; Bre'Shaun Spikes, Student Conservation Association volunteer.
In support of this legislation, a delegation of community leaders, led by the National Parks Conservation Association, went to Washington to urge members of Congress to support Kelly’s bill, H.R. 3929, which would designate the historic South Side Pullman neighborhood as Chicago’s first national park.
Lynn McClure, Midwest senior regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association, said of the day. "We had meetings with a variety of offices – in Senate leadership and with members of the Illinois House, who as of May 7th had not yet signed onto Representative Kelly’s bill as co-sponsors."
McClure added, "All of the Illinois delegation had heard about Pullman from constituents asking for their support of a national historical park designation. Our group of 11 Pullman advocates had positive responses from Congressional offices and a great feeling that this is something that has support in Washington."
"A recent economic report found that creating a national park at Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood would attract more than 300,000 visitors each year, create 350 jobs annually, $15 million in annual wages, and sustain $40 million in economic activity," said McClure. "With the centennial of the National Park Service in 2016, there is no better time to create Chicago’s first urban national park, which will provide Chicago residents and city dwellers perhaps their first or only national park experience, and better tell an important yet underrepresented part of our shared American story."
George M. Pullman was an American industrialist who founded the Pullman Palace Car Company to manufacture luxury passenger railcars on the South Side of Chicago. The historic Pullman district was developed to provide his employees with a place to work and live and enjoy productive and healthy lives. The historic Pullman district is one of America’s first planned industrial towns and represents nationally significant and important stories of the labor movement, and is home to one of the country’s first African-American unions.
"Establishing a national historic park in Pullman will be a tremendous economic generator for the 9th Ward, and an asset for the City of Chicago," said Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale. "The national park is an opportunity to tell the story of Pullman's historic role in the development of American industry and to bring tourism, economic recovery and investment to this under-served community. It is only by working together that we can make this project happen to bring new jobs and the great Pullman stories to life."
"We are grateful to have such strong support from the Illinois delegation and look forward to working with Senators Durbin and Kirk and Congresswoman Kelly to realize a national park back home in Chicago," said Pullman resident, Arthur Pearson with Pullman Arts.
Staff interaction, Rep. Robin Kelly