CHICAGO (CBS) — President Barack Obama will visit Chicago next week to designate the historic Pullman neighborhood – one of the first “company towns” in the U.S. – as a national monument.
Pullman was home to railroad baron George Pullman’s factory town in the 1880s, homes, shopping areas, churches, theaters, a hotel, a library, and other amenities for his workforce at Pullman Palace Car Co., which made sleeper cars for railroads.
Obama got his start in politics as a community organizer, meeting frequently at a McDonald’s just a few blocks from the Pullman factory, and he’s familiar with the history and architecture that made the area a candidate for national monument status.
The president will visit Pullman on Feb. 19 to announce the designation of the neighborhood as a national monument. It will be the first time a unit of the National Park system has been established in Chicago. Illinois has only one other national park, the Abraham Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield.
“We think it’s thrilling and exciting, because it’s a culmination of 50 years of grassroots efforts, and we worked very hard to preserve this fabric and this place to tell these great stories of American history” said Mike Shymanski, president of the Historic Pullman Foundation.
He said the architecture of Pullman’s company town has proved durable, and is still functional 130 years later.
“When you come here, you have a very strong sense of place, in that the architecture’s all very similar. You know that you’re in a special place,” Shymanski said.