Pullman, a historic company town located just south of Chicago, has been a favorite neighborhood of mine since I first visited in 2015 (the early days of my blog! Check it out here, here, and here). The history is complex and there are so many interesting and important threads you can follow (see links at the bottom if you want to read more). But today I am reporting back with some views of Pullman from my visit this weekend during the annual 44th Annual Historic Pullman House Tour (how many house tours have you heard of that have been around that long? Amazed!).
To provide you with a brief outline of Pullman’s history: Pullman was the first planned industrial community in the United States and its aim was to house the factory and workers for the Pullman Company. The Company produced the Pullman car, a railway car designed to bring comfortable accommodations to long-distance railway travel. Construction of the community began in 1880, led by George Pullman’s vision for a practical and aesthetically pleasing workplace and community.
Ultimately, Pullman played a major role in the Labor Movement. The Pullman Strike of 1894 brought national attention to unions and regulation. Pullman was also the site of the first major agreement between an African-Americna union and a major corporation: the 1937 contract between the Pullman Company and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.
From a design perspective, Pullman is fascinating. The factory is at the north end of the row houses, and each block features housing for different levels of workers. The highest level of workers are across the street from the factory, and the lower level workers are farther away. With status came better housing, both in size and in decoration. The farthest-away flats are four per row house (two on the lower floor and two on the upper floor, with a hall in the middle). The flat size grows as you progress north, as does the brickwork found on the building facades. I have organized the pictures in approximate south-to-north order so you can see these changes.
Sources and Further Reading:
Check out my previous posts about Pullman.
The Historic Pullman Foundation has a lot of great information, whether you’re thinking about visiting or just want to look at some historic photos and read some history! They also have a useful timeline of Pullman.
Head over to the Pullman State Historic Site website for extensive information including history and historic photos.
Love historic photos? (Me too.) Head over to Curbed: A Brief History of Chicago’s Pullman District Through Photos.
The fast facts from the Chicago Tribune. From Factory Town to National Monument: A Brief History of the Chicago Historic District.