S. 1962/Dick Durbin &
H.R. 3929/Robin Kelly
Explore American industry, labor, African-American history, and urban planning at Pullman National Historical Park. Nestled in a bucolic setting on Chicago’s far South Side, its 19th-century features remain relatively untouched since industrialist George Pullman made his mark here.
Pullman launched the Pullman Palace Car Company to manufacture rail cars, including the first sleeping car and, in doing so, created an ideal company town, complete with shops, schools, and a church. But in the economic “Panic of 1893,” Pullman raised workers’ rents without raising wages, prompting an industry-wide strike that disrupted rail service and ultimately led to “closing down” the town. Labor Day was later established as a federal holiday, following the strike.
While the town failed, the company persevered. In the early twentieth century, the Pullman Company was the nation’s largest employer of African Americans. And after decades of unfair and abusive labor practices, A. Philip Randolph organized the first African-American labor union—the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters at the Pullman Company. Pullman porters were instrumental in the rise of the black middle class in America.
The convergence of rich history within an urban atmosphere makes Pullman National Historical Park a worthy gift to residents and visitors of the great city of Chicago.
—A. Philip Randolph