“Lisa Burback lived in a Chicago Bungalow growing up on Chicago’s North Side, learning over those formative years it was more than just a roof over her head.
“‘My dad made sure I understood how special it was that we had that kind of house,’ she said. ‘He pointed out changes that previous owners had made, and said it’s our job to take care of it before handing it off to the next owners.’
“It’s a lesson she took with her when she moved from the North Side to Pullman in 2016, buying a 19th century worker’s cottage in a neighborhood she had only recently become aware of.
“The spirit of being a caretaker of history is a natural fit in her role as the newest park ranger at Pullman National Monument, Chicago’s only National Park Service property.
“Moving from the bustling North Side to ‘the very far reaches of the South Side’ constituted a lifestyle change, Burback said.
“‘I didn’t know what I was getting into,’ she said. ‘The community is so involved. You can’t walk down the street without people checking in on you, saying hi, seeing what you’re up to. Living in that kind of small-town environment was new to me, and it’s great.”
“‘This is not a regular neighborhood, this is a living historical park, and people take that seriously.’
“Though Burback has wholeheartedly embraced the neighborhood, she’s still a relative newcomer to Pullman. But her job gives her the chance to preserve the stories of the area’s lifelong residents through oral history interviews.
“She recently interviewed some longtime residents who had first alerted authorities when the Pullman clock tower building caught fire in 1998.
“‘She was involved in plans to make it a transportation museum, and watched that literally go up in flames,’ Burback said. ‘It was very emotional to hear them tell it.’
“Burback also has met descendants of Pullman Porters and other factory workers, and even a few old-timers who used to work at Pullman themselves and who were very interested in ‘making sure the workers’ side of the story is told,’ Burback said.
“There are lots of historical facets to Pullman National Monument, but on a personal level, the people of Pullman have had the greatest impact.
“‘History is here for everyone to learn and is accessible through books and tours, but experiencing the community here has changed my life,’ she said. ‘It changed my career, and my personal life.
“‘There’s nothing else like this in Chicago. I don’t know anywhere else in a major urban center where you can feel like you live in a small town.” (Eisenberg, Daily Southtown, 6/5/22)