The U.S. city of Chicago, Illinois is known as the ‘Hub of North America’. Many major interstates pass through the city, and it is a major railroad hub with many railroad lines serving the city. For this reason, Trains Magazine refers to the city of Chicago as the ‘Railroad Capital of America’. The city is famous for being a factory town, and one this that was manufactured here was the Pullman Car.
The year is 1857. A man by the name of George Pullman began to build what became known as the ‘Pullman Car’, a luxurious sleeper car used on long train trips, in a factory in south Chicago. He employed many people, many of whom were African Americans. One of the benefits of working for George Pullman was that he built a community for the workers to live in, and they had a short walk to the factory. A hotel, named for his daughter Florence, was also built. You can say that everyone enjoyed life at the Pullman Company.
In 1894, the workers went on strike. Wages were lowered, and workers were laid off. Unfortunately for the union workers, they would lose the fight, and the president of the union would get arrested.
The Pullman Company continued with the manufacturing of the sleepers. As the automobile became more popular, the Pullman Cars became less popular. The company folded in 1968.
In 2015, President Barack Obama declared the community a national historic site, and the National Pullman Historic Site was established. Many of the homes are now private residences. The hotel and the factory are currently vacant, but plans are in the works to restore both structures making them into museum space. The old factory will have some of the old Pullman cars on display. In the meantime, you can visit the museum and see some of the artifacts on display. The museum is free and is operated by the National Park Service. (Hours vary by season.) It is located at 11141 S. Cottage Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. It is just a few blocks west of Interstate 94 and 20 minutes from downtown. Once you see the museum, you can walk through the historic community. (The factory building is currently fenced off and is off limits.) When you are finish… leave… but plan your return to see a historic site reborn. You can read more into the National Pullman Historic Site and get more information at https://www.nps.gov/pull/index.htm.
When you are in and around Chicago, may your way to the Pullman National Historic Site. Come see a great piece of railroad history.
The two black and white photos are photos from the Pullman site and are the property of the National Park Service who retain the copyrights to the photos.
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