The Pullman National Monument Is Open To The Public
By Tia Carol Jones
The Pullman National Monument site opened on Labor Day weekend after years of planning. The National Park Service site is unique in that it is an urban park that tells the story of the planned community founded by George M. Pullman, who designed and manufactured sleeping train cars.
Teri Gage, superintendent of the Pullman National Monument said, “We have been working on this for so long, many many hours and many people working together to make this a reality. To be able to finally open the doors and open it up to the public is just so rewarding. This is just the beginning, this isn’t the end, this is the beginning.”
The Pullman National Monument is not just a museum or a statue, it is a living and breathing neighborhood full of diverse and engaged people. When people visit the site, they are not learning history from a textbook or exhibit, they are experiencing history when they walk through the historic neighborhood. People in the neighborhood are walking their kids to school or playing with their dogs or children in the park. “It is a personal experience of the history that changed America, here at Pullman,” Gage said.
The Historic Pullman Foundation was founded in 1973 and serves as the philanthropic arm for the Pullman National Monument and the Pullman State Historic Site. Its mission is to enable people to understand and experience the history of the community.
“As an urban’ park, with so many relevant American stories to tell, strong partnerships both locally and nationally, are vital to The Pullman National Monument’s success,” said Joe Szabo, president of the Historic Pullman Foundation.
The Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives has been part of the revitalization of the Pullman community, through the development of Pullman Park, which includes One Eleven Food Hall and the Pullman Community Center.
“As the quarterback of a lot of the economic development here in Pullman, we’re particularly excited about what that economic benefit is going to look like. it’s really our job now to leverage the resources of the National Park Service, the State and the City to continue to promote economic development, wealth creation and community development within the Pullman community,” said David Doig, president of the Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives.
Ninth Ward Alderman Anthony Beale credited the residents of Pullman who organized, mobilized and recognized them for their strength. He said, without them there would be no Pullman National Monument.
The fire at the Pullman Administration Building in 1998 happened around the start of Beale’s Aldermanic campaign. Beale was running as a preservationist who wanted to protect the history of Pullman. The first precinct that came in for him during the election in 1999 was the 37th precinct in Pullman.
“At that point I knew I had to roll up my sleeves and partner with the community in saving this structure and here we are today, a couple of decades later, cutting the ribbon on a National Monument, here in the city of Chicago, on the south side of Chicago, that is unheard of,” Beale said. “This is the very beginning of an ongoing movement to let the world know that Pullman is here to stay, and we are going to show what we have as far as the history of how labor started, how unions started, with the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porters.”