Unfinished Business - Fall/Winter - 2017/8 travel blog

Pullman Hotel

clocks tower building


Green Church

As we look ahead to visiting national parks in the western US, we thought we'd visit a new national monument close to home - Pullman. In 1859 George Pullman made a fortune raising buildings in Chicago 8 - 10 feet off the ground so plumbing could be installed beneath them. As he traveled to Chicago from the east by train, he was appalled at the lack of creature comforts on this trip. He resolved to build a model manufacturing community to producer lavish sleeper and dining cars. One of his earliest cars carried the Abraham Lincoln funeral cortege and that raised the profile of his company. Fourteen miles southwest of Chicago, he built a manufacturing community that had running water, plumbing and electricity long before those around it enjoyed such modern developments. He built housing for his employees for all levels of wealth, renting them to his employees so they could immigrate to the area and get right to work. In the 1920's his fleet grew to 9,800 cars; the last Pullman car was made for Amtrak in 1981. After the Great Depression homes and factory buildings stood empty and some burned down to the ground. There came a point where what was left needed to be gutted so that new manufacturing facilities could be built or the Pullman model community needed to be preserved. Many of the homes have been purchased by locals who proudly fixed them up and a combination of state and federal funds is gradually continuing with the preservation process today. Since President Obama just gave Pullman national monument status in 2015, much of the preservation is still in the planning and fund raising stages.

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