“Some people say that walking through Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood is like traveling back in time.
“On Labor Day weekend, a new visitor center in the old clock tower administration building will open and debut an exhibit exploring the pivotal role the community played in American history.
“‘This is America’s first planned industrial community and so there’s a lot to be learned here,’ said Teri Gage, superintendent of Pullman National Monument.
“Six years ago, President Barack Obama declared the Pullman neighborhood a national monument for its historic significance.
“George Pullman, a 19th century industrialist, revolutionized rail travel with his Pullman Palace Car, making what used to be a dreadful transportation experience a luxurious one. As Pullman’s business grew, he opened a factory south of Chicago. Next to the factory, Pullman built a company town, which he named for himself. Pullman envisioned it to be a workers’ utopia.
“‘Here you have indoor plumbing, trash pickup, everything a community should have, but built for the worker,’ said Lee Bey, an architecture critic who lives in Pullman.
“The town had all the amenities most working people could only dream of — beautiful architecture, manicured landscaping and parks, a library, church and theater — all owned and controlled by the Pullman Company. Workers and managers paid rent to Pullman for their homes.
“The clock tower administration building was the epicenter of the factory and company town, which is where the Pullman National Monument Visitor Center and Pullman State Historic Site Factory Grounds will open on Labor Day weekend.
“The exhibit inside, which includes a nearly full-sized model of the Pullman sleeper car, explores Pullman the man, the company and the town, and also Pullman’s important — and unintended — role in American civil rights and labor movements.” (Nelson, WTTW Chicago, 8/25/21)