Pullman, Chicago

Pullman, Chicago

Pullman is a neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, twelve miles from the Chicago Loop by Lake Calumet. It is also one of the 77 well-defined Chicago Community Areas.

The area known as Pullman encompasses a much wider area than the two historic areas (the older historic area is often referred to as just "Pullman", a Chicago Landmark district and the northern annex historic area is usually referred to as "North Pullman"). This article deals with all areas, although the area built by the Pullman company is the area that was part of the original historic Pullman area, which is bounded by 111th Street on the North end, 115th Street on the South end, Cottage Grove on the west end, and the railroad tracks on the east end.

Pullman is full of historic and architecturally significant buildings, among them are the Hotel Florence, the Arcade Building which was destroyed in the 1920s, the Clock Tower and Factory, the complex surrounding Market Square and Greenstone Church. Pullman is also home to one of Chicago's many beautiful 'Polish Cathedrals', the former church of St. Salomea, which is now used by Salem Baptist Church of Chicago. Pullman was one of seven sites that were nominated for the Illinois Seven Wonders sites in a contest sponsored by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Pullman is served by two Metra Electric Line stations: Kensington (115th Street) and Pullman (111th Street). Most Metra suburban express trains passing through the area stop at the 115th Street station, and only local trains stop at the 111th Street station.


Historic Pullman was built in the 1880s by George Pullman for his eponymous railroad car company, the Pullman Palace Car Company. Pullman's architect Solon Spencer Beman was said to be so proud of his creation that he asked George Pullman if the neighborhood could be named for himself. Pullman responded to the effect, "Sure, we'll take the first half of my name, and the second half of yours."

In a day when most workers lived in shabby tenements near their factories, Pullman seemed a dream, winning awards as "the world's most perfect town." Everything, from stores to townhouses, were owned by the Company. The design was pleasing, and all of the workers' needs were met within the neighborhood. The houses were comfortable by standards of the day, and contained such amenities as indoor plumbing, gas, and sewers.

Pullman's misfortune came during the depression which followed the Panic of 1893. When demand for Pullman cars slackened, the Pullman company laid off hundreds of workers, and switched many more to pay-per-piece work. This work, while paying more per hour reduced total worker income. Despite these cutbacks, the Company did not reduce rents for those that lived in the town of Pullman. The Pullman Strike began in 1894, and lasted for 2 months.

George Pullman himself died in 1897. The Illinois Supreme Court required the company to sell off the town which was annexed into the city of Chicago. Within ten years, all non-manufacturing property - the houses, the public buildings - was sold off to the individual occupants.

Along with the whole South Side, the town of Pullman had been annexed to the City of Chicago in 1889. After the strike Pullman gradually became a regular Chicago neighborhood, only with distinguishing Victorian architecture. The fortunes of the neighborhood rose and fell with the Pullman Company.

The Pullman factory made its last car in early 1982 for Amtrak. The neighborhood's decline that began in the 1950s continued, but that economic decline at least spared the district's architecture. In 1960 the original Town of Pullman, approximately between 111th and 115th Streets, was threatened with total demolition for an industrial park. The residents there formed the Pullman Civic Organization and saved their community. By 1972 the Pullman Historic District had obtained National, State, and City landmark status to protect the original 900 rowhouses and public buildings built by George Pullman.

Census data

1995 Census date of homebuyers: 61% Caucasian, 27% African-American, 12% Other (Hispanic, Asian, etc.)

1999 Census date of homebuyers: 65% Caucasian, 29% African-American, 6% Other (Hispanic, Asian, etc.)

2001 Census date of homebuyers: 75% Caucasian, 19% African-American, 6% Other (Hispanic, Asian, etc.)

The demographic data in the table to the upper right reflect the entire ward that is now known as Pullman, not just the historic areas, which are generally more diverse.

References in media

Pullman has been featured in several major motion pictures. "Road to Perdition" (Tom Hanks, Paul Newman) was filmed in historic Pullman, showing the factory and how it "once was" with workers, as well as many other scenes of the neighborhood itself. The 1993 film "The Fugitive" had several key scenes in Pullman, as this was where the one armed man lived in the movie. You can see Harrison Ford in the local bar using the pay phone, then he runs down the alley, then atop many of the Pullman rowhouses. In April 2007, Universal Studios began filming of "The Express" which also features several scenes in Pullman, one which includes the cast leaving the Greenstone Church (see Ernie Davis).

On November 12, 2006, Historic Pullman was the topic of the HGTV television show "National Open House", featuring a Pullman house on 112th and Langley.

The owner of the DigIt Pullman store (Mike McGraw) has been featured in many local news stories in 2007. The Chicago Sun Times ran a news story on him in April 2007, and the local ABC 7 news did a "Someone You Should Know" segment on him on May 3, 2007.

ee also

*Granite City, Illinois (another company town)


External links

* [http://egov.cityofchicago.org/webportal/COCWebPortal/COC_ATTACH/Community_Areas_PULLMAN.pdf Official City of Chicago Pullman Community Map]
* [http://www.pullman-museum.org/ Pullman State Historic Site (contains lots of historic photographs)]
* [http://www.pullmanil.org Historic Pullman Foundation]
* [http://hometown.aol.com/pullmanil Pullman Neighborhood Website]
* [http://www.pullman-museum.org/images/mainimage.jpgImage of museum]
* [http://www.digitpullman.com/ DigIt Pullman]
* [http://www.suntimes.com/news/neighborhoods/330382,CST-NWS-mcgraw06.article Sun-Times Article on "DigIt" and Pullman]
* [http://blogs.suntimes.com/neighborhoods/2007/04/historic_pullman_like_living_i.html Sun-Times.com Blog Article about Pullman]
* [http://www.enjoyillinois.com/sevenwonders/chicago.html Illinois Seven Wonders - Voting has ended]

Geographic Location 2
Center = Pullman, Chicago
North = Burnside, Chicago
ESE = South Deering, Chicago
East = Lake Calumet
South = Riverdale, Chicago
Southwest = West Pullman, Chicago
West = Roseland, Chicago

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